Camp left in ruins after last week (Archives)
Photo: AFP
At least 22 killed in Lebanon camp battle
Lebanese soldiers fight Fatah al-Islam militants at Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp, killing 20; two troops killed in battle

At least 20 Islamist militants and two Lebanese soldiers were killed on Sunday in a battle near a Palestinian refugee camp in north Lebanon, a security source said.


The Fatah al-Islam militants had been attempting to flee the Nahr al-Bared camp, where they have been battling the army for more than three months in Lebanon's worst internal violence since the 1975-1990 civil war, security sources said.


"The militants of Fatah al-Islam attacked army positions in a desperate attempt to flee Nahr al-Bared camp," the army said in a statement. Security sources said at least 10 militants had been captured.


Security forces patrolled the area and searched orchards near the camp while helicopters hovered overhead, hunting for any militants who had managed to flee.


The fighting, which erupted on May 20, has killed more than 300, including at least 154 soldiers, 120 militants and 42 civilians. Most of the camp's 40,000 residents fled in the early days of the battle to a nearby Palestinian refugee camp.


Fatah al-Islam split from a Syrian-backed Palestinian faction last year. It says it shares al-Qaeda's ideology but has no organizational ties to the network.


Lebanese security sources have previously estimated there to be more than 30 active fighters left in the camp, which has mostly been reduced to rubble by the battle.


It was not clear if any militants remained in the camp or what had happened to Shaker al-Abssi, the Palestinian leader of a group which also includes Lebanese, Saudi and Syrian fighters.


The militants have put up fierce resistance, managing to inflict casualties on the army despite aerial and artillery bombardment. Their wives and children were evacuated from the camp on August 24.


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