Beirut - Lebanese soldiers are being hampered in their fight against holed-up Fatah al Islam terrorists at the Nahr el Bared Palestinian refugee camp in north Lebanon by the stench of putrefying corpses.
An officer on the ground said yesterday that the rotting corpses littering the devastated Nahr Al Bared refugee camp had made the air there unbreathable.
A hospital source said several soldiers had been admitted due to severe vomiting.
However, the army continued sporadic shelling of Islamist positions though sustained casualties during mine-clearing operations on the ground.
Two helicopters flew over the camp but did not open fire as they had on previous days, while the army blew up several buildings on the periphery of the small area of the camp still controlled by the Islamists.
"The army is continuing to make slow progress in de-mining the area while limiting its losses. A certain number of soldiers have been killed or wounded by mines left by the armed men," a military spokesman said.
"Several buildings have been destroyed by various means to clear mines and booby-trapped vehicles," he added.
More than 200 people, including 136 soldiers, have been killed since the conflict erupted on May 20, the worst internal violence since the end of Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war.
Most of the camp's 31,000 residents have fled since the battles began, but about 60 women and children related to Fatah Al Islam fighters remain inside.
The army has accused the Islamists of using them as human shields.
The conflict has had severe repercussions across Lebanon, not least nation-wide power cuts as the Deir Ammar power station remains out of action after being struck by rockets launched by the Islamists on August 2.
Fatah al-Islam's leader Offers to surrender
National News Agency has reported that the alleged terrorist leader Chahine Chahine, has renewed his offer to surrender in return for a pledge that he would not receive the capital punishment.
Sources familiar with the Lebanese judiciary system commented that "no authority in Lebanon can make such a pledge. No one can guarantee ahead of a trial what the verdict would be. This is illegal. This would be tantamount to interference in the judiciary."
The Lebanese army is insisting on unconditional surrender .
Prime Minister Fouad Siniora has promised fair trial to all those that surrender.
Picture: Lebanese soldiers patrol the outskirts of Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp
Sources: Gulf daily
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