- Title: LEBANON: Army launches final push to crush militants in Palestinian camp
- Date: 25th July 2007
- Summary: (BN09) NAHR AL-BARED CAMP, LEBANON (JULY 25, 2007) (REUTERS) WIDE OF NAHR AL-BARED CAMP AND SMOKE RISING FROM SHELLING AND AUDIO OF BLASTS VARIOUS OF SHELLING AND SMOKE RISING LEBANESE MILITARY TANK DRIVING INSIDE CAMP LEBANESE SOLDIERS IN ARMY JEEP DRIVING INSIDE CAMP MORE OF SHELLING INSIDE CAMP'S DESTROYED BUILDINGS
- Embargoed: 9th August 2007 13:00
- Location: Lebanon
- Country: Lebanon
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAC0UMGQUSKULP33I635ISR7HXC
- Story Text: Lebanese troops advanced towards fortified positions of Islamist militants at a Palestinian refugee camp on Wednesday (July 25) in what political sources said was the start of a final assault to root out the gunmen.
Moving in under cover of artillery and tank fire, soldiers killed at least three Fatah al-Islam militants at Nahr al-Bared camp in north Lebanon, raising the overall death toll from two months of fighting to at least 245, security sources said.
One Lebanese political source said the military was engaged in the final phase of the military operation to flush the militants of the Palestinian camp in which they had entrenched themselves. The source added he expected the army to capture the whole camp by the end of this week.
The source said there were about 100 people left inside the area controlled by Fatah al-Islam -- 60 fighters and 40 civilians who include 24 wives of militants and 16 children.
Palestinian and U.N. officials had earlier put the number of civilians left in the hundreds. The Lebanese source said some 200 civilians had left the camp in recent days.
Witnesses said soldiers blasted with tanks and artillery the last pockets of the militants who have refused repeated calls to surrender. The fighting, which began on May 20, is Lebanon's worst internal violence since the 1975-1990 civil war.
One witness who watched the fighting from a distance said, at its heaviest shortly before dawn, some 20 shells a minute were hitting the camp.
The militants hit back, firing a few Katyusha rockets into areas outside the camp. The security sources said two soldiers were wounded in the clashes.
The Lebanese army's slow push into the destroyed camp has cost the lives of 120 soldiers. More than 84 Fatah al-Islam fighters and 41 civilians have also been killed.
The army has consistently demanded the unconditional surrender of the militants who had attacked its positions around Nahr al-Bared on May 20, killing around 16 soldiers.
The camp housed 40,000 refugees before the fighting began. Most are now staying at other camps. Lebanon is home to some 400,000 Palestinian refugees, half of whom live in 12 camps.
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