BEIRUT (AFP) – Lebanese authorities have identified the bodies of 10 Saudis among Fatah al-Islam militants killed in fighting with the army in northern Lebanon, a senior security official said on Monday.
“We have identified the bodies of 10 Saudis among the 27 bodies taken by police” since clashes first erupted between the Islamists and Lebanese armed forces on May 20, he told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The official said 17 bodies of Fatah al-Islam combattants were found in the main northern port city of Tripoli and 10 others nearby.
“Police have not taken away the body of any combattant from inside Nahr al-Bared,” he said, referring to the impoverished camp near Tripoli where clashes are continuing.
He said the body of Fatah al-Islam spokesman Abu Salim Taha, who has been reportedly killed in the clashes, was not among the 27 bodies recovered by police.
“I don’t think that Abu Salim is Saudi. He is probably a Palestinian national,” he said.
The Saudi newspaper Al-Watan said on Sunday that six Saudi militants had been killed in the clashes, including Abu Salim Taha whose real name is Al-Hamadi Abdullah al-Dussari, 23.
“We are running DNA tests in order to identify the combattants, most of whom were carrying false passports or false identity cards,” the Lebanese security official said.
On July 2, Sultan Abul Aynayn, the Lebanon chief of the mainstream Fatah faction, told AFP that 42 Saudis figured among the Fatah al-Islam militiamen fighting the army.
He said 20 had been killed, one has surrendered, and another 21 were still holed up inside Nahr al-Bared, three of them wounded.
The Al-Qaeda-inspired group is also made up of Lebanese, Palestinian, Iraqi and Syrian fighters, according to the army, which has been battling Fatah al-Islam in the bloodiest internal violence since the 1975-1990 civil war.
According to a count compiled from official figures, the conflict has claimed at least 173 lives, including 85 soldiers. Many bodies are believed to have abandoned amid the ruins of Nahr al-Bared.