Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Evacuations and Preparations: Day 4 in Nahr el Bared

Approximately half of the Nahr el-Bared civilian population has been evacuated overnight in what could be a run-up to a final assault on Fatah al-Islam militants bunkered down in the Palestinian Refugee Camp.

According to the YaLibnan news website, about 15,000 Palestinian refugees fled the camp after a ceasefire came into place after sunset. The site reported that "refugees have largely moved to a nearby Palestinian refugee camp at Beddawi, where shelter, mattresses, food and water had been provided".

YaLibnan also reported eyewitnesses accounts from residents fleeing the camp claiming "they saw Fatah al-Islam leader Shaker al-Absi seriously wounded in his hand and his shoulder as a result of Lebanese army shelling of the group’s headquarters in Nahr al-Bared camp". This comes as the Naharnet news website reports that Absi's son-in-law, and Fatah al-Islam's number 2 man, was seriously wounded in clashes with the Lebanese Army, something the group had earlier denied.

According to Naharnet, the Lebanese daily An Nahar, reported that "13 other Fatah al-Islam militants were shot and killed by Lebanese army fire as they tried to flee Nahr al-Bared by boat to the southern refugee camp of Ein el-Hilweh. An Nahar [also] said other Fatah al-Islam fighters were arrested and handed over to the intelligence bureau".

Meanwhile, Naharnet quoted a Nahr el Bared 'civilian committee' as having received information that the Palestinian mainstream Fatah movement had "prepared a 300-strong battalion headed by Sultan Abul Ainain to 'storm' Nahr al-Bared to deal with extremists from Fatah al-Islam".

Speaking on Monday about the feasibility of the Lebanese Army eliminating the Syrian-sponsored group, Retired Army General Elias Hanna indicated that "entering the camp is not a question of weaponry or technology - if the army goes in it would use special forces and the army has two brigades of special forces and is more than capable in that area,"

The retired general hinted that at a possible coordination between the army and members of the mainstream Fatah movement, "First we have to see how organized [Fatah] are inside the camp and how ready they are to oppose Fatah al-Islam."

On Monday night the Lebanese Army released a statment notifying residents in the vicinity of the Rayak Air Force base of night air sorties by the Lebanese Air Force due to start this evenning. Given that the Lebanese Air Force is solely made up of helicopter squadrons, any sortie party would most likely consist of rocket-equipped helicopters that could effectively form the basis of any assualt on the camp this evenning.
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Update:

The Naharnet news website reported on Wednesday evenning that approximately 100 fighters loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had started deploying in the Nahr el Bared Refugee Camp. That number is expected to grow to 300 and is expected to aide in any Lebanese Army operation to clear camp of pro-Syrian Fatah al-Islam gunmen.

13 comments:

  1. Renée C.9:55 PM

    I just heard that another bomb went off. This time in Aley. :-(

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  2. "On Monday night the Lebanese Army released a statment notifying residents in the vicinity of the Rayak Air Force base of night air sorties by the Lebanese Air Force due to start this evenning. Given that the Lebanese Air Force is solely made up of helicopter squadrons, any sortie party would most likely consist of rocket-equipped helicopters that could effectively form the basis of any assualt on the camp this evenning."

    Lebanon doesnt possess helicopter with attack abilities,the one they possessed were destroyed by the LF in the late 80, they can just put machine guns on the actual one.
    The emirates promised gazelle with rockets stuff but we are still waiting for it.

    Yah a bomb happened in Aley, 3 injuries for the moment.

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  3. Anonymous10:25 PM

    EXPLOSION IN ALEY !!!!!!!

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  4. Anonymous10:32 PM

    God protect Lebanon and all Lebanese!

    I have a comment about aljazeera. I'm not sure how many here see the same. I am really fed up with aljazeera's coverage of what's happening in Lebanon. They are almost siding with fateh el-Islam, covering every declaration they make, making them as legitimate as the Lebanese army. They are not objective, and here we are not talking USA vs Arabs, it's Lebanese army vs Extremist militia.

    Just now, their headline is:
    "فتح الإسلام تتهم طرفا ثالثا بجر الجيش اللبناني للمواجهة"

    Not sure what's the purpose of this type of propaganda, other than helping in distabilizing Lebanon.

    Okocha

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  5. Renée C.11:04 PM

    Okocha, I feel your pain. We have media outlets here in the US that do similar things, sigh. I don't understand why some news outlets don't just stick to the news. It's bad enough that some of them exaggerate the situation, but to favor a terrorist enemy whose only claim is to kill innocent people is just madness, grrrrrrrr.

    Again, thank God for the WWW.

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  6. Guys, thanks for the great updates, I (and the rest of our readers) really appreciate it!

    As for the helicopters, FrenchEagle, I received information that they had already been delivered, have they not yet?

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  7. Here's a bit of an update on the losses the Fatah al Islam leadership took over the past two days:

    Absi's deputy, known by his code name of Abu Median, was also killed in clashes with the Lebanese army and his body was recovered Wednesday, a reliable security source told Naharnet.

    He said nearly all the Fatah al-Islam command members have been either killed or wounded. "The group is left now with junior commanders who are having problems controlling their followers."

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  8. I personally don't pay much heed to Al Jazeera but I went over to check it out after Okocha and other bloggers' comments on the material being presented.

    Suffice it to say that I was outraged. Okocha is absolutely right in saying they accord the same level of legitimacy to the Lebanese government and state as to these bearded thugs!

    What a shame.

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  9. Click here for updates on the explosion in Aley this evenning.

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  10. Anonymous2:40 AM

    excellent blog, thanks for the updates

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  11. Dear Jade
    I didnt see any till now and i m living in Jounieh where there is an helicopter airbase.

    Moreover, it seems that the international community doesnt want to handle equipment with attack abilities (in other term in french, ils ne seront pas équipés de pylones d'équipements de tirs)

    It is like providing a pistol without bullets.

    By the way, there are many rumors right now in lebanon, on libnanews we are trying to made the difference btw the real info and the fake ones., so we have to be aware of what the media report

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  12. French Eagle,
    Thanks for your comment, you guys are doing a great job at Libnanews!

    As for the international community and weapons for us, yes, there are restrictions on the types of weapons we can get, but the gazelles aren't a problem. The restrictions apply to air defence systems mostly. Thats how I understood it.

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  13. As for the helicopters, i received information that choppers were delivered to the Lebanese Air Force base adjacent to Beirut International Airport, and that pilots were still being trained on their use.

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