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Middle East
Gun battle resumes in Lebanon
As more US military aid arrives, leader of Fatah al-Islam vows to keep fighting.
Last Modified: 27 May 2007 06:58 GMT
Abssi, sitting, said he was willing
to set an example to his followers
Fighting between the Lebanese military and Muslim fighters at a Palestinian refugee camp has continued into a fourth day, with renewed gunfire reported in the evening.
 
The Lebanese army has besieged Fatah al-Islam, an al-Qaeda-linked group made up of fighters from across the region, since Saturday.
The fighting has left scores dead, destroyed houses and triggered a flood of refugees from the camp.
 
Civilians continued to flee from the Nahr al-Bared camp near Tripoli on Saturday, while the US flew further military aid into Beirut for use by the Lebanese army.
The ammunition supplies arrived a day after the leader of the Shia opposition group Hezbollah said Lebanon risked fighting a war "on behalf of the Americans".
 
Battles resumed late on Saturday night, with the Lebanese army on the camp's perimeter exchanging fire with Fatah al-Islam fighters inside, Zeina Khodr, Al Jazeera's correspondent, reported from Tripoli.
 

Witnesses reported machinegun fire, rocket fire and artillery bursts.

 

No troop movements were reported.

 

The UN has called for the protection of thousands of civilians trapped by the Lebanese army's siege of the camp.

 
Fatah al-Islam tape
 
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Earlier on Saturday, Al Jazeera aired a tape featuring a speech by Fatah al-Islam's leader.
 

Shaker al-Abssi said: "We wish to die. We wish to die for the sake of God. If the leader is sitting at the forefront, he will set an example for his followers."

 

He said Fatah al-Islam would fight "the Jews, the Americans and their loyalists", an apparent reference to Lebanon's government.

 
Nasrallah speech
 
On Friday, Hassan Nasrallah, secretary-general of Hezbollah, said in a televised speech that the country risked getting dragged into America's war against al-Qaeda.
 
He said: "The problem in the north can be solved politically and through the judiciary."
 
Nasrallah said that the situation was still
amenable to a political solution [AFP]
Nasrallah said accepting US help would draw more fighters into the country and potentially destabilise it.
 
Fuad Siniora, Lebanon's prime minister, has defended the import of military supplies from the US, saying the supplies had been offered by several countries months ago.
 
The US-supplied aid is a sensitive issue in Lebanon, where opposition leaders accuse the government of working to Washington's agenda.
 
Palestinian factions have been seeking a negotiated solution to end the siege and avert a battle between the Lebanese army and Fatah al-Islam.
 
'There is optimism'
 
Osama Hamdan, Hamas's representative in Lebanon, said that "as long as we agree on the necessity of a solution and we speak with a language of solution, then there is optimism".
 
Elias Murr, Lebanon's defence minister, said on Friday he was "leaving room for political negotiations", which he said must lead to the surrender of the Fatah al-Islam fighters.
 
He said: "If the political negotiations fail, I leave it to the military command to do what is necessary."
 
The UN has called for the protection of thousands of civilians trapped by the Lebanese army's siege of the camp.
 
"An estimated 10,000 civilians remain in the embattled camp with only sporadic humanitarian support during very brief ceasefire periods," Unicef, the UN children's agency, said.
 
"Children living in Nahr al-Bared have been through unspeakable trauma."
 
About half of Nahr el-Bared's 31,000 residents fled the camp during an earlier truce, seeking shelter in the nearby Beddawi camp.
 
At least 20 civilians and 30 soldiers were killed in the fighting earlier this week.
 
The Lebanese military says 60 Fatah al-Islam fighters were killed, though the group put the toll at 10.
Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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