Fighting between Lebanese soldiers and Islamist gunmen spread to the southern refugee camp of Ein el-Hilweh, leaving at least two soldiers dead. Police said the Ein el-Hilweh clashes broke out at late Sunday after a Jund al-Sham activist tossed a hand grenade at an army checkpoint outside Ein el-Hilweh, Lebanon's largest refugee camp.
Five people were wounded and police said the casualties included three Lebanese army soldiers and two Palestinian civilians. Early Monday, Jund al-Sham gunmen again attacked army checkpoints around the southern refugee camp with grenades, prompting Lebanese troops to respond with artillery and machine gun fire, An Nahar reported.
Meanwhile in the north, Fatah al-Islam spokesman Abu Salim Taha confirmed that five Fatah al-Islam fighters, including a senior leader, have been killed and seven wounded since Friday, when the army launched its latest ground offensive against the fighters holed up inside Nahr al-Bared camp. Sources said Fatah al-Islam's third-in-command, Naim Deeb Ghali, also identified as Abu Riad, who was known to send fighters to Iraq, was killed in the gunbattles.
A senior Lebanese army officer said nine Lebanese troops have been killed since Friday, and several others wounded.
There was no way to tell exactly how deep the army had advanced into the camp, because the area had been sealed off and journalists were kept away. Al-Arabiya said Lebanese troops penetrated deep into Nahr al-Bared and were locked in "violent building-to-building" battles" with Fatah al-Islam fighters.
The state-run National News Agency said army troops were in "full control over all axes" to Nahr al-Bared.