Lebanon has declared victory in its 33-day war against an Al Qaeda-inspired militant group in a Palestinian refugee camp and said its military operation was over. The conflict around the Nahr al-Bared camp in North Lebanon has cost the lives of at least 166 people.
Defence Minister Elias El Murr said a seige would now be maintained until all the Fatah-al-Islam militants surrendered: “The Lebanese army has destroyed all their strongholds,” he said. “The terrorists have been crushed.”
Shortly afterwards Fatah-al-Islam announced a ceasefire following a month of conflict. On the streets of Beirut the news of peace was welcomed. “No extremist group that tries to destroy the country will be successful,” said one man. “The Lebanese army’s victory was for the whole country.” “It’s good because people want to get back to work. There is no work these days but with a ceasefire people can get back to work, people will come back from abroad, I just want everything to come back to normal,” said another.
The conflict was the worst outbreak of internal violence since civil war ended in 1990. Fighters from across the Arab world are believed to have come to join the Palestinian refugees in the urprising.