Lebanon declares victory against Fatah al-Islam
BEIRUT: Lebanon on Thursday declared victory in its 33-day war against an Al Qaeda-inspired militant group at a Palestinian refugee camp and said its military operation there was over.
The fighting between the army and militants holed up in the Nahr al-Bared camp in north Lebanon was the worst outbreak of internal violence in the country since the end its civil war 17 years ago and cost the lives of at least 166 people.
“I can tell the Lebanese that as of now the military operation in Nahr al-Bared is finished,” Defence Minister Elias al-Murr told Lebanon’s LBC television.
“All the positions of the terrorists have been crushed,” he said, adding that the surviving members of the Fatah al-Islam had pulled back from the edges of Nahr al-Bared into civilian areas deep in the camp.
“I dedicate this victory to the Lebanese people ... all of the Lebanese people.”
Murr said the army would maintain a siege around the camp until all Fatah al-Islam militants surrendered, including their leader Shaker al-Abssi.
“They have to surrender ... It’s not good enough to say Abssi was killed, if he is dead, give us the body,” he said. Murr said the army was continuing some mobbing up operations and defusing mines and booby traps at the outskirts of the camp.
There was no immediate reaction from Fatah al-Islam. Reuters