Lebanese troops are working their way through the Nahr-al-Bared refugee camp, searching for booby-traps, after finally winning their battle with Islamic militants who had been holed-up there. The government says the leader of the Fatah-al-Islam group and 38 other fighters were killed in clashes yesterday. Five soldiers are also believed to have died in the fighting that brought the three-month-long siege to an end. Fifteen militants were said to have been captured as they tried to escape.
The conflict has taken a heavy toll on civilians, many of whom fled to the nearby Beddawi camp. More than 40 civilians were killed and many have lost their homes. Nahr-al-Bared lies in ruins and some in Beddawi fear they have nothing to go back to. “We’re going to rebuild our homes and lives”, one man said. “When we left our homes were ok, now I think everything is gone,” a woman said.
It was Lebanon worst internal violence since the civil war of 1975 to 1990. For the government this is a crucial victory as previously Palestinian camps had been beyond the control of the state.