Nahr Al Bared, Lebanon: Al Qaida-inspired militants in north Lebanon threatened yesterday to take their fight to other parts of Lebanon and beyond if the Lebanese army did not stop attacking a Palestinian refugee camp.
"If the army continues to bomb civilians and pursue its inhumane practices ... we will move within the next two days to the second phase of the battle," Fatah Al Islam military commander Shahin Shahin said by telephone from Nahr Al Bared camp.
"We will show them the capabilities of Fatah Al Islam, starting with Lebanon and then moving to the whole of Greater Syria," he said, using a term intended to include what is now Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Lebanese troops fired artillery and tank shells overnight and in the morning at Fatah Al Islam militants holed up in the coastal Nahr Al Bared camp, the 18th day of battles there.
At least 114 people, including 46 soldiers and 38 militants, have been killed since fighting erupted on May 20. The army says the militants started the conflict and demands their surrender. The battles are Lebanon's deadliest internal conflict since the 1975-1990 civil war.
In south Lebanon, a 40-member force from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah group and three Islamist factions deployed at the northern entrance to Ain Al Hilweh camp, scene of deadly clashes this week between the army and the militant Jund Al Sham group, which has links to Fatah Al Islam.
The Ain Al Hilweh fighting, in which two soldiers and two militants died, raised concern that the conflict in the north could spill over to refugee camps elsewhere in the country.