(A Post that is constanty being updated, added analysis)
Mass conflicts broke between the Lebanese Army and the Syrian patched Palestinian Fatah el Islami (not to be mistaken with Fatah). My friend on msn told me that heavy shooting is taking place in Tripoli. All night they were awake.
Army officials say that the Interior Security forces attacked a building loaded with armed men, suspected to be a location for a mob stealing a bank, and the Fatah Islami retaliated by attacking the army in different locations. This was announced by the army's Orientation Unit (Moderiat el Tawjeeh)
Fatah el Islam are an offshoot from Fatah, whom the former attacked the latter that they are "secular". More importantly and alarming, they adopted a dogma related to the Sunni hardliner position to liberate Palestine; however, this hardline logic is similar to al-Qaeda, and there is a big difference with the Lebanese Sunni logic, such as the Muslim Brotherhood or the Islamic NGOs.
The Lebanese Army is facing them, the Fatah el Islami is active in Tripoli, till now (12:30 noon), eight Lebanese Army have been killed, while 5 from Fatah el Islami have been killed. The Qalamun has witnessed some confrontations. It was heard early in the morning that certain militants on the main roads (autostrad) been shooting randomly on civilians, and the civilians called the security forces. The Mayer of the muncipility argued that it is the first time they appeared, and now the army is confronting them outside the parameters. Qalamun is safe now.
The Port Route (already suffered royally from Israeli aggression last year) has the Fatah el Islami confrontations with them. The residents and neighbors there have been under siege in their homes, and the only way to check on the safety of their neighbors and relatives is through the phones.
14th of March accused Syria to tamper with Lebanese Security in unleashing gang wars, the Minister Fatfat accused the Baathis because of the talks on the International Tribunal discussions. Now MP Ahdab argues that if Fatah el Islami wants to fight the Israelis, then why they are shooting on the Lebanese civilians and army, and again accuses Syria. He, like Reymond Edde in the 1950s, argued that Lebanon should be neutral from the Arab-Israeli conflict and seize to be someone else’s other war. (Although up to my knowledge, all Arab nations signed peace/negotiating peace which also includes Syria) while Lebanon is the scapegoat and the Zionists go butchering Lebanese civilians. 14th of March also argue that the Syrians want to ruin the economy more than it is ruined (bad management – opposition’s demonstrations – Israeli aggression …).
Sultan Bou A’ainein, spokesman for Fatah and its coalition in Lebanon, declared full support for the Lebanese Army. The army is determined to cleanse all the “pockets”/enclaves in the Nahr el Bared refugee camp parameter. Fatah and Fatah el Islami have been in collisions for the past months.
The Red Cross has been calling for a seize fire, even for a short moment so that they can take care of the wounded inside the camp (expected 17 wounded, that includes children).
The army blocked the reporters to take photos or live shoot-out. They have been bringing their tanks, but shooting has been limited to Light-Arms. The Zaharieh region been involved in heavy shooting, street to street fighting is taking place. In the camp region, the Fatah el Islami attacked the Lebanese Army to ease the pressure on the Ammyoun area, where everything began, where the Fatah el Islami ambushed the army and killed the army units (which triggered the confrontation to take place).
Tripoli has been before the site confrontation, during the civil war, we had the “Tawheed” , declaring Tripoli as an Islamic Princedom, which targeted the Communists and the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP). (usually considered the bloodiest phase of the war after the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon and butchering over 40,000 Lebanese in less than two month, guided by the lunatic Sharon).
The army (1:00), succeeded in breaking a stronghold, where the Fatah el Islami are hiding, and the Sheikha building is under siege (where Fatah el Islami took place).
The army has done several check-points asking the travelers on their IDs.
Abdu building, is under siege (1:11), within the Mi-tain area, which has 3 remaining militants hiding in it, the army currently is breaking through as smoke grenades are being launched and the army is cleansing the building from militants. A pregnant woman with her crippled husband were inside. Heavy shooting is heard on TV. The residents are cheering the army. Operation is complete, the army didn't say any statements, and they arrested one of the militants, transfered to another location (1:15).
The Free Patriotic Movement has also sponsored a unifying stand with the government regarding Fatah el Islami. Only difference, they added a notion that now a Unified Government is needed more than ever, to have a stronger security atmoshpere.
Amin Gemayel called for the elections of a new president to solve the crisis, Lebanon has been buried in for decades (funny thing though, he was part of this muck Lebanon is in).
The Fatah el Islami reminds us of the PLA (Palestinian Liberation Army) which was patched up by Damascus, composed in Syria of Palestinian warriors in Syria to gain political grounds in the Palestinian question/Arab-Israeli Struggle).
Hamas also declared that they are not affiliated with Fatah Islami, and they accused them as non-Palestinian, and also supported the Lebanese Army. This means a third party is financing Fatah el Islami.
Fatah el Islami accused the Lebanese Army of doing an "illogical offensive" on the Nahr el Bared zone. Now they threatened to go everywhere in Lebanon doing their military. All eyes are going in accusing Syrian Baathi regime.
Speculations would go that the Fatah el Islami will end the deadlock between the camps, and they are behind the assassinations to desolve the Lebanese crisis. This is some hopeful thinking by some. Already the government, the opposition, the two out of three Palestinian main forces in Lebanon (Hamas - Fatah, while no statement came out of the Popular Front - General Command) denounced them as non-Palestinian.
Updates, the Lebanese Army sustained 11 killed and 19 wounded.
Syria closed two northern routes between Lebanon and Syria due to "instability in the Situation".
The Prime Minister and the President finally agreed on one thing these days, which is denouncing the offensive on the Lebanese Army, and stressed on focusing on stability for Lebanon and support to Lebanon.
Articles on Fatah el Islami can be found here, here (announcement of their foundation), and here
Fear is that Ain el Hilwi Camp situation might blow up, and we will have two fronts, unless they are seperated (Jindi el Sham and Fatah el Islam) with competitive agendas, then Jindi-El Sham would sit and enjoy the scene as their rivals are under fire).
4:00; From LBC: in the last hour, there are about 10 casualties for our army. The fighting has been limited to light arms, the use bombs, has declined while machine guns are on going. Fatah el Islami has 7 dead.
Sadly, the Palestinian civilians in Nahr el Bared are suffering from the Fatah el Islam, already their life circumstances has been barely livable. The residents of Tripoli argued that this is the first time (recently) that Nahr el Bared region has witnessed such activities, which means the they came recently (well starting almost from last year).
It is funny though, if we followed the Israeli logic, Lebanon would have used its artillary to bombard the whole Nahr al-Bared region and delete it from existence.
Other than the FPM, none of the rest of the Opposition Leaders spoke, specially Karami.
6:15, heavy clashes are taking place between the Army and the Zaharieh area, seems they have a cell there. The army is penetrating under heavy shooting.
6:20: Harriri speaks and denounces Fatah el Islam, accuses Syria for being behind it, "whoever protects this organization and sends them this weaponry, is a partner in hitting Lebanon." Islam is innocent from these terrorists. He glorifies the Army, and the people of the North (bla bla bla), and honors the martyrs. Funny, why he had to give the speech from the Sarayieh (governmental palace?)
I forgot to mention that since noon, the Zaharieh area got evacuated from the civilians.
6:47, Aoun finally gives his speech denouncing the attack on the army, and specially to those "given a home", but it is funny that Aoun was involved in the Tel el Za3tar seige. Coming from this man is hilarious. He also attacks the government on the basis attacking the weaponry of Hezbollah which gives stability in the South, rather tackling the real issues, and proposes that the government should leave (suggesting himself as always as the solution). He gives his condolences to the martyrs' family.
6:52, LBC reports that light weapon conflict is still on-going. The TV is still placed at a distant checkpoint in Mhamara (Nahr el Barid region). Unlike the Zahariah region, where the camera was really close. Clashes still go in Minnieh (Nahr el Bared region also).
7:03, Abass Zaki, head of the office of the PLO, just confirmed that all the factions within PLO denounces this offensive, and considered that this is reflecting badly on the Palestinians first, then on the Lebanese. Zaki supports the Lebanese Army.
7:05, Yakan, a Sunni hardliner who is head of the Islamic Work, explained that he was a mediator between Lebanese Army and Fatah-Islami. His statement is under doubt, specially the Army has been going head to head with them. Second, Yakan claimed that he is a mediator between both, Lebanon & Syria. This is illogical as well, since the politicians handle such mediations and not the army. An analyst suspects that Yakan is saying that because he is avoiding to support publicly the Lebanese Army.
7:10, Junblatt congratulates the Fohod Squad (special forces of the Lebanese Army) on their performance, but again this is ironic, Junblatt also proved during the January chaos that his members are willing to do check-points based on Sect, and still have military arms.
7:12, Antoine Zahra (Lebanese Forces MP) confirmed that no way the Army would seek negotiation with Terrorists, and confirms the analysis on Yakan's behavoir.
7:15, my cousins in Tripoly have clashes in their street, they confirmed to me that the army is moving on a very carefully move, and only retaliate wherever gunshots are taking place. Luckily, they are safe for now.
7:16, Antoine Zahra goes naively preaching the government of 14th of March.
7:17, according to Reuters on TV, the number of the army members killed has reached 23.
7:24, New TV displays political statements from Hezbollah, Marada, and AMAL denounced the attack on the Lebanese Army, and supported the Lebanese Army. Hezbollah are definitely not interested in anything for al-Qa'eda, specially there is heavy ideological confrontations between both. Mainly al-Qa'eda are more extremists, and consider Hezbollah as non-Muslims since they are Shiites. Hezbollah supported fully the Lebanese Army, and considered its vital role to give stability in the nation. They argued that the Lebanese government should by all means rush into work rather let the nation burn. The links to Hezbollah, Aoun, and AMAL (who still do not know how to control their hooligans), are found here
7:45, The Current ministers inside Lebanon are meeting with the rest of Army and Interior Security forces, in order to give the Lebanese Army full political cover and assistence. The meeting started with one minute silence in respect of the martyrs. Moreover, the irony the government had meeting with 14th of March figures prior to that.
8:05, LBC reports that Fatah offered assistence to the Lebanese Army, specially the Fatah el Islam have been hiding between the Palestinians in the Nahr el Bared. Fatah awaits greenlight from the Lebanese Army to pitch in.
8:06: In Zaharia, the Tripoli residents celebrate the end of crisis there, and went to the Baathi Party's location, and threw stones on the HQ. Supporters of Saad Harriri demonstrate.
Militarily: The Lebaenese Army is not brutal like the Israelis, but it took time to exterminate these tiny cells for different reasons:
1) They are functioning in a high residential area, I saw my cousins' house next to the building for example, they told me that the army is retaliating where they see a shooting.
2) The army was hesitant to enter the buildings because they were worried that the Terrorists would blow themselves up once the Foohood (Cheetah) Squad enters.
3) The army lacked efficient snipers to snipe out the ones shooting back
4) It is funny that Israel bombarded the army last year, and then said the army is "weak" (duh!!).