Monday, May 21, 2007

Breaking News: Fighting Continues - Ceasefire Broken (Updated!)

For futher updates please refer to the following post and its comments section! Don't forget to check these developments!

Update(12:48 am):

The Lebanese Army has renewed shelling of Fatah al-Islam positions within the Nahr el-Bared Refugee Camp.

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Update(11:48 pm):

Three Lebanese Army soldiers were reported killed when Fatah al-Islam gunmen launched an attack on their outpost near the northern section of the camp at approximately 10:20 pm.

Meanwhile, militants from the Jund al-Sham group operating in the Ain el Helweh camp (in the southern Lebanese city of Saida), have reportedly been seen mobilizing and taking strategic positions throughout the camp and the Taamir neighbourhood adjacent to it.

The Lebanese Army had released a statement earlier that evenning notifying residents in the vicinity of the Rayak Air Force base of night air sorties by the Lebanese Air Force from 23/5/2007 to 24/5/2007, from 7:30 pm to 9:22 pm.

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Update(8:48 pm):

Continued fighting and mortaring heard as dusk settles over the city of Tripoli and the Nahr el-Bared Refugee Camp. Casualty figures for the day are still unclear.

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Update(7:02 pm):

The Naharnet news website, has reported from sources inside the camp, that Fatah al-Islam gunmen have resorted to using the residents of the camp as human shields, firing on those trying to get out of the camp as well as humanitarian organisations which had attempted to evacuate the wounded as part of an earlier agreed upon ceasefire.

"'They have taken the population hostage. They even interrupted the evacuation of the wounded civilians. They opened fire at civilians who were trying to run away from the camp' to safer areas in the nearby Baddawi camp and the northern town of Triploi, said Wedad who was reached through her mobile telephone.

Abdul Qader, a 50-year-old resident of the camp, said about 150-200 armed elements from Fatah al-Islam carried out a broad-front advance from their beach enclave across the narrow streets of the camp and took up sniping nests on rooftops and in residential apartments from which they opened fire on rescuers and Lebanese troops.

'They appear determined to fight it out to the end, with the civilian population forced to serve as human shield for their fighters. They shoot at every civilian who tries to evacuate the camp and seek refuge with the Lebanese army,' Abdul Qader told Naharnet."

The website also reported that weapons and troops had been brought to the camp last night by fishing boats from neighboring Syria.

"At least two gunboats from the Lebanese navy were observed in the Mediterranean off the northern coast, in what appeared to be an effort to block Fatah al-Islam's marine supply route."

Future TV, a pro-government Lebanese media outlet, has reported an attack on Lebanese Army troops by Fatah al-Islam gunmen in the town of Al-3abda, north of the city of Tripoli, and close to the Nahr el Bared camp's northern entrance.

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Update(6:40 pm):

The Palestinian government has released a statement in support of the Lebanese government's confrontation of Syrian-sponsored Fatah al-Islam militants in the Nahr el-Bared Refugee Camp. The statement also called for the protection of Palestinian residents in the camp.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana will be in Beirut tomorrow for a meeting with Prime Minister Fouad Saniora and Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri. Arab League Cheif, Amr Moussa, has called an emergency meeting of the League's Arab representatives, due to be held tomorrow, to address the violence in and around the camp.

Meanwhile, television footage shows ongoing fighting and shelling in and around the camp. Al Jazeera has reported that of seventeen gunmen killed yesterday, 10 were Lebanese, 4 were Syrians, and 3 were Saudis. Other news agencies have reported 7 gunmen captured yesterday.

Map courtesy of BBCNews.com

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Update(5:20 pm):
Lebanese Army tanks are reportedly moving towards the Nahr el-Bared camp, amid heavy fighting. The sky above the camp is now covered with black smoke arising from several plumes across the camp. A convoy of Red Cross ambulances and humanitarian and religious figures heading into the camp at the time of the ceasefire reportedly came under fire (which broke the ceasefire), the Lebanese Army intervened and extracted the convoy.


If you're wondering where these Fatah al-Islam fighters came from, check this piece from November 2006: Click Me!


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The Lebanese Army maintained an artillery barrage into the Nahr el-Bared Refugee Camp this morning while reinforcements tightened the security cordon around the Ain el Helweh Refugee Camp (another camp with a known pro-Syrian presence) near the southern city of Saida.


The Army reasserted control over all entrances to the Nahr el-Bared camp one day after some of its positions were overrun in surprise attacks by the Syrian-sponsored militant group, Fatah al-Islam.

In the early afternoon Fatah al-Islam began firing mortar artillery on Army positions surrounding the camp. The Army responded with a continued artillery barrage.


As the casualty toll in the camp rose in light of the Army's bombardment, ICRC ambulances made their way to the camp only to be stopped at the entrance by Fatah al-Islam militants, effectively preventing the evacuation of wounded from the camp.

The ICRC was able to secure a ceasefire in order to effectuate an evacuation of those requiring medical attention in the camp. Preliminary figures from inside the camp indicated the number of dead to be around 30 with 90 wounded. The ceasefire came into place from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm local time. In the meantime, the Lebanese Cabinet was due to convene a session at 5:00 pm local time.


Twenty minutes into the ceasefire reports emerged of renewed fighting after Fatah al-Islam militants openned fire on Army positions. The Army has returned fire! Television footage now shows a massive dark plume of smoke arising from the camp while heaving fighting can be heard in the background.


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Earlier in the day Prime Minister Fouad Saniora met with the PLO representative in Lebanon, Abbas Zaki, who highlighted his group’s readiness to cooperate with the Lebanese Army in their containment and confrontation with the Fatah al-Islam group. Abbas is seen to have given his consent to an entering of the camp by the Lebanese Army provided that the action doesn’t lead to heightened casualties among the civilian population there. He cautioned that an entry into the camp might not resolve the situation, however.


In the Bedaoui Refugee Camp, a protest was held by the residents in support of the Lebanese Army and in condemnation of the Fatah al-Islam actions.


Security sources revealed that one of the Fatah al-Islam militants killed in fighting yesterday was a suspect in a failed German train bombing attempt. The body of the fighter, Saddam al-Hajdib, was among the burned bodies of 10 fighters found in a building in the northern port city of Tripoli after it was raided by Lebanese soldiers and policemen during Sunday's fierce fighting. Al-Hajdib was the fourth-highest ranking official in the Fatah al-Islam group, an official said. He is the brother of Youssef el-Hajdib, who is under arrest in Germany in the bombing attempt. An Nahar newspaper also on Monday quoted security officials as saying al-Hadjib and another Fatah al-Islam official known as Abu Yazan, who were killed in Sunday's battles, were involved in the February 13th Ein Alaq twin bus bombings.


Police commander Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi said Sunday that Damascus was using Fatah al-Islam as a covert way to wreak havoc in the country, with people assuming it's al-Qaida, but Syria has denied involvement in any of the bombings.


"Perhaps there are some deluded people among them but they are not al-Qaida. This is imitation al-Qaida, a 'Made in Syria' one," Rifi told The Associated Press.


The Lebanese Broadcasting Corp. TV station reported Sunday that among the dead militants were men from Bangladesh, Yemen and other Arab countries, underlining the group's reach outside of Lebanon.

4 comments:

  1. Cease-fire with whom? People are doing so much of the fighting that the army cannot stop, even if it wanted to.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey Jeha,
    Are residents of Tripoli engaged in the fighting?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Bj, I heard that tripoli residents are excitingly offering their services to the Army. I also heard that civilians caught and turned in two terrorist fugitives.

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  4. Thanks for the update Mustapha.

    While the street fights between the Army and the Fatah al-Islam gunmen were going on yesterday, I got reports that civilians were continuously calling the Army with tips and information on the location of the gunment throughout the city.

    Disturbing news, however, on the seaborne delivery of weapons and ammo to the group in the camps from Syria.

    ReplyDelete

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