Sunday, May 27, 2007

RE: Militants accuse US of sending nerve gas to Lebanon

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From: Pamela's Protest
Date: May 26, 2007 10:27 PM

Last Update: Sunday, May 27, 2007. 9:49am (AEST)

Militants accuse US of sending nerve gas to Lebanon
Islamist miltants have accused the US of sending nerve gas to the Lebanese army, which is struggling to defeat a group of rebels holed up inside a Palestinian refugee camp.

US transport planes continued to fly more ammunition and military supplies to Lebanon on Saturday (local time) as new clashes erupted in the Nahr al-Bared camp.

The militant Fatah al-Islam group, which has vowed to fight to the death, said in a statement the US supplies included nerve gas and cluster bombs.

"If they use unconventional weapons against us, we will respond with unconventional attacks everywhere," said the statement, read by the group's spokesman Abu Salim Taha.

A Lebanese military spokesman said he had no reaction to "these false allegations which are not worth commenting on".

Later, the leader of Fatah al-Islam issued a new threat in a videotaped message carried on Al-Jazeera television.

The group would fight "the Jews, the Americans and their loyalists," said Shaker al-Abssi, referring to Lebanese leaders.

A short time later, clashes erupted between Lebanese soldiers and militants around Nahr al-Bared.

The clashes with heavy machine-guns, grenades, mortars and artillery continued sporadically throughout the night.

Lebanese leaders have vowed to stamp out Fatah al-Islam, which is led by a Palestinian but has little support among Lebanon's Palestinian refugee community of around 400,000.

Officials said they were giving mediators a chance to persuade the militants to surrender before ordering the army to move into the camp.

The Lebanese army is banned from entering Lebanon's 12 refugee camps under a 1969 agreement.

Three US Air Force cargo planes had earlier landed at Beirut's airport and unloaded ammunition and other equipment for the army, airport sources said.

Six planes carrying similar military aid from the US and Arab allies arrived on Friday (local time).

The shipments, promised months ago but rushed after fighting erupted between the army and Fatah al-Islam on May 20, arrived as Lebanese soldiers beefed up their positions around Nahr al-Bared, the militants' main base.

Security forces searched buildings and houses in the nearby port city of Tripoli and other villages in search of militants who may have slipped through the cordon, security sources said.

A fragile truce between the combatants has held since Tuesday (local time) despite sporadic clashes.

The fighting, the worst internal violence since the 1975-1990 civil war, has killed at least 33 soldiers, 27 militants and 18 civilians.

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