Lebanese army blasts Palestinian camps

Daily Star, Lebanon:

BEIRUT: Fighting between the Lebanese Army and Islamic extremists intensified in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp outside Tripoli on Monday, with the death toll in two days of clashes rising to at least 79. Heavy black smoke hung in the air as the army reinforced positions around the camp and rolled in heavier equipment. Soldiers stepped up shelling of buildings where members of the Fatah al-Islam group were believed to have taken refuge…

Security sources said that 25 militants had been killed and that 40 were in custody. The army said 30 soldiers had been killed so far in the battle, and released photographs of 19 of them (see Page 2). Reports put the civilian death toll at 24.

The fighting is Lebanon’s worst internal violence since the 1975-1990 Civil War.

According to a 1969 agreement, the Lebanese army is not permitted to enter the Palestinian refugee camps, which contain numerous terrorist gangs. Apparently the agreement doesn’t forbid the Lebanese from firing mortars and artillery shells into the camps, because this is the approach they are taking. Water and electricity have been cut off since the fighting started. The refugee camp is actually a small city, with a population of about 30-40,000. Many of the terrorists are not Palestinians, and include Syrians, Saudis, Afghans, Yemenis, etc. (but I bet UNRWA is feeding them all). Druze and Christian Lebanese sources claim that Syria is sponsoring Fatah al Islam.

Bomb in Beirut's Verdun districtViolence is spreading, with several explosions reported in Beirut (this one is in the capital’s Verdun district), as well as firing in other refugee camps. As far as I can tell, nobody is blaming the Mossad for being behind these events, but possibly I just haven’t looked in the right places. There are about 350,000 ‘Palestinian refugees’ in various camps in Lebanon.

The “International Community” deplores the violence, of course. Interestingly, they are not calling the Lebanese Army’s use of heavy weapons in a civilian area ‘disproportionate’:

“We had long and full discussion on Lebanon, with reasons for grave concern related to the violent incidents of yesterday and this morning,” UN envoy Terje Roed-Larsen said after a meeting with Arab League chief Amr Moussa in Cairo.

“On behalf of the [UN] Secretary General, I will urge everybody to act in the most responsible manner, or else I feel that the whole situation might … fall off the cliff,” he said.

The US State Department defended on Monday the actions of the Lebanese security forces, saying they were working in a “legitimate manner” against “provocations by violent extremists”…

UN chief Ban Ki-moon saw the fighting as a threat to all of Lebanon, his spokeswoman said Monday. “The actions of Fatah al-Islam are an attack on Lebanon’s stability and sovereignty,” Michele Montas said, adding that Ban “welcomes the united stand taken by Palestinian factions in Lebanon denouncing these attacks on the Lebanese Army”…

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner spoke with Premier Fouad Siniora on Sunday to assure him of France’s support. He also “expressed France’s solidarity and trust in the Lebanese authorities to restore order and calm”…

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