Beirut (AsiaNews) – Military operations by the Lebanese army in the Nahar al-Bared refugee camp have “ended” but the troops continue to surround the area until the total surrender of the Fatah al-Islam militants, Lebanese Defence Minister Elias Murr said yesterday. In the meantime Arab League chief Amr Moussa announced that he would extend his mission to Lebanon for another day to continue his mediation efforts between Lebanese political groups.
Murr’s statement says that the bloody clashes that killed at least 150 people, half of them Lebanese soldiers, might be over. But in reality the surviving members of the terrorist group simply moved from the new section of the refugee camp to the old one whose boundaries were set in 1948 by the United Nations and where the army cannot enter.
An Nahar reported that Sheik Mohammed Haj, from the Palestinian Scholars Association, a mediator who met with the militant group's leaders in recent days, said Fatah al-Islam “has declared a cease-fire and will comply with the Lebanese army's decision to end military operations.”
In another development, the paper reported that Moussa held late night talks with Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. Previously he had met with all the leaders of the country’s main political and community leaders, including Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir.
His goal is to jumpstart the intra-Lebanese dialogue between the country’s 14 different political groups. Started early last year it was stopped by the summer war with Israel and never resumed.
“There was some progress made from our meetings," Moussa told reporters, but opinions are divided.
Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV network quoted Moussa as saying “there are difficulties, but they are not insurmountable.”
The Pro-government French daily L’Orient Le Jour talks instead of “a negative report” preceded by a “tentative hope for the resumption of the dialogue conference.”
The Daily Star noted that after Moussa met Berri, neither made a statement. However, Moussa did say that a future visit by an Arab delegation to Syria was “critical” and would take place “soon.”