After 33 days of fighting and at least 170 deaths, Lebanese forces claimed victory over Al Qaeda linked-terrorists at the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian camp in northern Lebanon.
This was a major victory for the Lebanese forces- their first since the democratic government took control after the Cedar Revolution.
Smoke from artillery and tank shelling rise from the Palestinian Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon, June 21, 2007. Lebanon declared victory on Thursday in its 33-day war against an al Qaeda-inspired militant group at a Palestinian refugee camp and said its military operation there was over. (REUTERS/Loay Abu Haykel)
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Lebanese troops would continue to hunt down the Fatah al-Islam terrorists who are thought to be hiding among civilians.
An uneasy calm has settled in northern Lebanon a day after the government claimed to have “crushed” Islamist fighters at a Palestinian refugee camp.
Leaders of Fatah al-Islam at the Nahr al-Bared camp were on the run, Defence Minister Elias Murr said on Thursday.
Officials said sporadic explosions on Friday were caused by soldiers blowing up booby-trapped buildings and mines.
A month of fighting has left 170 people dead in Lebanon’s worst internal violence since the 1975-90 civil war.
Mr Murr told Lebanese TV that the army had “crushed those terrorists”.
…Troops would continue to pursue the leaders and remaining fighters of Fatah al-Islam, Mr Murr said.
He said they were believed to be hiding deep within the refugee camp among the civilian population, suggesting some clashes could still flare up inside the camp as a result.
Meanwhile… The residents surrounding the Nahr al-Bared camp say they do not want the Palestinians to return to the camp and that they ought to “go to Saudi Arabia, Jordan or to the devil.”
Ya Libnan reported:
After decades of peaceful coexistence, the death of dozens of Lebanese soldiers — some having their throats slit by Fatah al-Islam terrorists on May 20 — have sounded the death knell of neighborly relations with the camp.
“It can never be like it was before, after what they did and allowed to be done,” 56-year-old farmer Ali Baker said in Al-Minieh, Tripoli in northern Lebanon close to the Syrian border.
“No one here will forgive and forget,” he said. The others agreed. “Each village in this area has lost at least one soldier.”
But, what about the Palestinian refugees who have fled the camp?
“We don’t want them back – ever,” he replied.
…The Beirut government’s pledge more than a month ago to help rebuild the refugee camp, now a wasteland of pitted concrete beams and slabs, cuts no ice here.
“These assassins and those who allowed them here must be cleared out,” Khwailed fumed. “Flatten the camp and let them go to Saudi Arabia, Jordan or to the devil.”
…”They claim that these are foreign jihadists, Saudis… But we know very well that most of them are Palestinians from inside the camp. And that those who did not fight alongside them certainly agreed with them,” Sahramen said.
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