Last Updated: Mon Nov 01, 2010 20:22 pm (KSA) 17:22 pm (GMT)

Heavy fighting erupts in Lebanon refugee camp

Rival fighters exchanged rocket fire for four hours in the densely populated camp
Rival fighters exchanged rocket fire for four hours in the densely populated camp

Quiet descended upon a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon on Saturday after a ceasefire between Islamic militants and fighters of the mainstream Fatah faction ended heavy clashes, a Fatah official said.

Rival fighters exchanged rocket fire for four hours into the evening in the main street in the densely populated Ain al-Helweh camp outside the southern port city of Sidon, prompting hundreds of civilians to flee.

Gunshots were subsequently heard in Sidon itself, with a Fatah leader saying at least four people had been wounded in the clashes with Jund al-Sham (Soldiers of Damascus) militants.

A Palestinian official said that the militants of the Jund al-Sham had been angered by Fatah's seizure of a commander of the group and his handover to the Lebanese army.

Jund al-Islam fought a deadly battle with Lebanese soldiers last year, joining in a revolt by the fellow Islamic militants of Fatah al-Islam centered on the north Lebanon refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared.

The group's name refers to the ancient Islamic term of Bilad al-Sham, a region which covers Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Its members are mostly Lebanese, many of whom fought against the army during an Islamist rebellion that broke out on New Year's Eve in 1999 in the predominantly Sunni area of Dinnieh in north Lebanon and left 45 people dead.

The Sunni group also includes Palestinians, mostly dissidents of the fundamentalist Usbat al-Ansar (Band of Supporters), which was outlawed by Lebanese authorities in 1995 for murdering a rival cleric.

Jund al-Sham, which has no clear hierarchy or particular leader, is believed to have about 50 militants armed with assault rifles, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.

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