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Lebanese Intelligence Agents Kill 2 Militants - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Lebanese police officers gather around a car riddled with bullet holes that was transporting suspected members of an al-Qaeda-inspired group in Chtaura at the eastern Bekaa valley, Lebanon. (AP)

Lebanese police officers gather around a car riddled with bullet holes that was transporting suspected members of an al-Qaeda-inspired group in Chtaura at the eastern Bekaa valley, Lebanon. (AP)

BEIRUT, (AP) – Lebanese security forces killed two suspected Islamist militants Saturday, including the leader of an al-Qaeda-inspired group that fought a bloody battle against Lebanon’s army in 2007, two Lebanese military officials said.

A senior army official said one of those killed was Abdul-Rahman Awad, a Palestinian leader of the Fatah Islam group. Awad’s aide, Ghazi Faysal Abdullah, who was also known as “Abu Bakr,” was also killed in the gunbattle in the town of Chtaura, in the eastern Bekaa Valley, the official said.

Another army officer said Awad’s brother identified Awad’s body. Both officers spoke on condition of anonymity, in line with regulations.

Awad was one of the most wanted men in Lebanon, and his death would mark a major blow to Fatah Islam. The group was little known before the summer of 2007 when it battled the Lebanese army for three months in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr el-Bared in northern Lebanon. About 220 militants and 171 soldiers were killed in the fighting. Palestinian officials put the civilian death toll at 47.

It has been blamed for deadly blasts that killed more than a dozen Lebanese soldiers in the northern city of Tripoli two years ago, as well as an attack on U.N. peacekeepers patrolling an area near Lebanon’s border with Israel.

Lebanon’s authorities have stepped up pressure on the group since the 2007 clashes, and last year, a Lebanese military court convicted 12 Fatah Islam members of carrying out terrorist acts, including a bomb attack on U.N. peacekeepers. Five of the men — including Awad_ received life sentences in absentia.

A Lebanese army statement confirmed that two militants were killed Saturday after a gunbattle broke out when officers tried to detain them, but the statement did not identify those killed.

Awad, who was about 40, was born in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein el-Hilweh, an infamous haven for militants in southern Lebanon, and was married with several children. He was known by his nick name, “Shahrour,” while some referred to him as “Abu Mohammed.”

The one-time leader of Fatah Islam, Shaker al-Absi, has not been heard from since the 2007 clashes with the army. In 2008, a statement purportedly posted by the group on an Islamic militant website said al-Absi was probably killed in Syria.

The statement also said the group had elected Abu Mohammed Awad as its leader but gave no further details.

Lebanese army Special Forces perform during a drill in Roumiyeh, north of Beirut. (R)

Lebanese army Special Forces perform during a drill in Roumiyeh, north of Beirut. (R)

Lebanese army Special Forces perform during a drill in Roumiyeh, north of Beirut. (R)

Lebanese army Special Forces perform during a drill in Roumiyeh, north of Beirut. (R)

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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