Fierce clashes rock Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon

Posted April 13, 2017

A member of the Palestinian Fatah faction fires his weapon during clashes against hard line Sunni Islamists known as the Badr group inside the Ain el-Hilweh refugee camp near Sidon, southern Lebanon April 11, 2017.

An AFP correspondent on the outskirts of the camp in the city of Sidon reported the sound of intermittent fighting and bursts of gunfire, after a night of heavy clashes.

The clashes, which reportedly involve the use of machine guns and mortars, have pitted forces loyal to the Palestinian Fatah movement against the "Bilal Badr group", a Salafist faction whose critics accuse it of pursuing a "foreign agenda".

Last week, the largest factions in the camp formed a joint force in an attempt "to bring security to it", a local Fatah commander told the NNA.

Factions have clashed with Islamic terrorists for the third consecutive day in a Palestinian camp in Lebanon.

The military leadership of Fatah insisted on completely ending the so-called phenomenon of "Bilal Badr" at the camp to become an example for other extremist groups.

The camp founded in 1948 is the largest of the 12 Palestinian camps in Lebanon and is home to more than 54,116 registered refugees according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

The fighting has prompted security measures outside the camp, which Lebanese security forces do not enter by long-standing agreement. "We ask from God that the situation calms down so that we can return to our homes", he said Sidon's Musally mosque, where he was taking shelter.

The government hospital in the port city of Sidon was struck by a rocket, and Lebanese authorities have closed the main highway connecting the city to southern Lebanon.

"Only Israel benefits from the ongoing sedition. and on top of the events is Ain al-Hilweh clashes", Berri said.

Palestinians in Lebanon are prohibited from working in professional jobs and have few legal protections in Lebanon.

Many people wanted by the Lebanese authorities are believed to have taken refuge in the camp.