(Reuters) - Lebanese troops took control on Sunday of a Palestinian refugee camp where they had been battling militants for more than three months, killing at least 31 fighters who tried to flee, security sources said.
Twenty-three more fighters from the Fatah al-Islam group were captured, 12 of them wounded militants detained after the army took over the Nahr al-Bared camp in north Lebanon, a security source said.
Here are some facts about Fatah al-Islam:
- The faction emerged in November when it split from Fatah al-Intifada (Fatah Uprising), a Syrian-backed Palestinian group. Fatah al-Islam had some 200 fighters at the time, based in Nahr al-Bared camp. Security sources have said militants from other Palestinian camps then joined the group and were trained at the camp.
- The Lebanese government links Fatah al-Islam to Syrian intelligence. Syria and Fatah al-Islam deny any ties to each other. Michel Suleiman, the commander of Lebanon’s army, said in August the group was a branch of al Qaeda and not backed by Damascus.
- On August 20, Lebanon’s prosecutor general charged 107 detainees with belonging to Fatah al-Islam. They included 62 Lebanese, 36 Palestinians, five Saudis, two Syrians, a Tunisian and an Algerian. Another 119 were charged in absentia, including 38 Saudis, 11 Syrians, an Iraqi, a Yemeni and many others of unknown nationality.
- The wanted include Shaker al-Abssi, Fatah al-Islam’s leader. He is a veteran Palestinian guerrilla and was sentenced to death in Jordan for killing a U.S. diplomat in 2002. The slain leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, received a similar sentence for the same crime.
- Abssi says his group has no organizational links to al Qaeda but agrees with its aim of fighting infidels.
- Abssi told Reuters in March that his group’s main mission was to reform the Palestinian refugee community in Lebanon according to Islamic sharia law before confronting Israel.
- The government has said four Syrian members of Fatah al-Islam confessed to bombing two buses in February in a Christian area near Beirut. Three people were killed in the attacks.