Lebanese Fighting on 3 Fronts, From Tripoli to Sidon
Fighting was spread over three fronts in Lebanon on Sunday, from Tripoli in the north to Sidon in the south.
Palestinians in the mountains overlooking Beirut pounded Shia Muslim militiamen with artillery fire, warning they will use all means to end the three-week-old siege of their nearby refugee camps.
However, fighters of the Shia militia Amal continued to trade gunfire with Palestinian gunmen inside the besieged Borj el Brajne and Chatilla refugee camps on the southern fringes of West Beirut.
Military sources said the clashes were particularly fierce on the outskirts of Borj el Brajne, the largest and best-defended camp. At least 16 people were killed and 30 wounded there in a 24-hour period over the weekend.
The gunfire around the two refugee camps triggered the shelling of Shia positions by Palestinian gunners in the Shouf mountains overlooking Beirut.
A third camp, Sabra, has already been overrun by Amal gunmen.
The shelling coincided with a statement from the National Salvation Front, a coalition of Palestinian groups, vowing to “respond with all means to lift the siege on the shantytowns.”
Police sources said 534 people have been killed and 2,260 wounded since fighting for control of the camps broke out May 19. Palestinians said there are another 500 dead in the camps, but the report could not be confirmed.
In Tripoli, rival Muslim groups battled in what appeared to be an offshoot of the factional violence spawned in Beirut’s “war of the camps.”
Police said sniper fire killed one person in Tripoli and six were wounded in clashes between Muslim factions, raising the official toll in the northern port city to 18 killed and 30 wounded in three days of fighting.
In the southern port of Sidon, security officials said unidentified gunmen opened fire on an Amal militiaman in the Martyr’s Cemetery, killing him and wounding two other people.
In the capital, Lebanese President Amin Gemayel said the next few months will provide the key to finding a solution to Lebanon’s problems, Christian Voice of Lebanon radio said.
Gemayel said his summit last week with Syrian President Hafez Assad produced many positive results, but “the solution cannot be found by just pressing a button.”
Syrian-mediated peace talks on the Shia-Palestinian conflict are deadlocked, with the Palestinians refusing to surrender their weapons to Amal, which wants to block the return of Palestinian guerrillas to Beirut.