Lebanese army faces Damascus-backed resistance from Fatah al Islam in the northern Lebanese camp of Nahr al-Bared

debkafile reports: After two weeks of fighting, the Lebanese army is still stalled in its effort to break through to the Palestinian Nahr al-Bared refugee camp and rout the Fatah al-Islam radicals holed up there. Two tough obstacles have not been overcome – even with the help of a US-Jordan-UAE airlift of military aid in the last ten days or the mobilization of Lebanese army commando units.
1. Fatah al-Islam are not fighting alone; they are backed by elite units of the Iranian-Syrian-backed Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian-General Command, which is commanded by Ahmed Jibril. These Palestinian units are highly trained in urban guerrilla warfare by Syrian commando battalion officers and Iranian Revolutionary Guards and have better skills than the Lebanese commandoes.
2. The radical fighters are getting as many guns and as much ammo as they need to ward off a Lebanese commando incursion into the camp. To avoid tipping its hand, Damascus is holding back the pro-Syrian militias in northern Lebanon from direct involvement in the fighting. But they were heavily armed beforehand and are now diverting to the Fatah Islam everything they need to keep on fighting.
In the south, Islamist militants of Jund al-Sham (Al Qaeda in the Levant) went on maximum alert at the Ein al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp, ready to rise up if the Lebanese army overwhelms its fellow- radicals in Nahr al-Bared.
debkafile notes: The failure of the Lebanese army to quell the Islamic group’s uprising would have grave consequences in Lebanon and outside.
Prime minister Fouad Siniora would be shown to be helpless to impose his government’s authority in the rest of Lebanon. Because he is afraid to complain to the UN about foreign interference on the side of the Fatah al Islam, the Lebanese army is left looking as though it is no match for a mere 350 al Qaeda-linked radicals.
Another pro-US leader who looks bad is Mahmoud Abbas. He and his Fatah organization are formally responsible for security and law and order in the Palestinian refugee camps. A radical win in the Lebanese camp will further undermine Abbas’ position in Gaza and the West Bank and magnify the threat facing Israel.

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