May 24/2007

Bible Reading of the day
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 17,11-19. And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are. When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me, and I guarded them, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you. I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely. I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth.
As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth.

Free Opinions
The Hand of Syria Seen in Lebanese Violence.American Thinker. May 23/07

Latest News Reports From Miscellaneous Sources for May 24/05/07
"No surrender" says militant group involved in Lebanon violence.Monsters and
Amnesty: Threefold increase in killings of Palestinians by IDF in 2006.Ynetnews
Report: 70 percent of insurgents arrested in Iraq come from Gulf ...International Herald Tribune
European Union Calls for Calm in Lebanon.Deutsche Welle
Militant vows fight to death in Lebanon.White Rock Reviewer
World Vision Calls for Ceasefire in Lebanon.Christian Post

Rice Defends Lebanese Government's Clamping Down on Militants-Naharnet
Sarkozy Adamant to Speed up Tribunal Establishment Efforts-Naharnet
15,000 Palestinians Flee Camp, 20 Civilian Bodies Retrieved
13 Fatah Islam Militants Fleeing by Boat Killed, Group's No. 2 Wounded-Naharnet
Camp Warns of Civilian 'Massacre' if Fatah Moves In to Crush Extremists-Naharnet
PLO Won't Object to Army Entering Camp, Militants Vow No Surrender-Naharnet
Lahoud Demands Handover of Blameworthy Fatah al-Islam Militants-Naharnet
U.S. Challenges Syria, Daring It to Obstruct Tribunal-Naharnet
Washington Considering Additional Military Aid to Lebanon
Jumblat Points Finger at Terror-Exporting Damascus Regime
Lebanon: Ban Ki-moon demands immediate halt to attacks.ReliefWeb (press release) - Geneva,Switzerland
Solana urges calm in Lebanon.PRESS TV
Relief a casualty in Lebanon fighting.Mission Network NEws (press release)
Furious Street Battles Remind Lebanon of Its Bloody Past.New York Times
Lebanon Requests More US Aid Amid Tripoli Fighting.Voice of America
Hezbollah backs Lebanon army in standoff.Peninsula On-line
Syria distances itself from Lebanon Islamists.The Brunei Times
Syria denies link to militants.PRESS TV
Syria or al-Qaeda behind Fatah al-Islam?World War 4 Report
Zebari: Foreign fighters cross from Syria.Alsumaria
Lahoud Demands Handover of Blameworthy Fatah al-Islam Militants.Naharnet
Solana voices support for Lebanese Army, government-Daily Star
Fragile truce takes hold in Nahr al-Bared-Daily Star
Arabs send arms for army - and US may follow suit-Daily Star
Jumblatt predicts more bombings, calls for united front-Daily Star
Pro-government MPs gather to demand Parliament session amid security crisis-Daily Star
Siniora, Palestinians discuss 'possible remedies'-Daily Star
Ain al-Hilweh condemn 'massacres' in North-Daily Star
Three dead as relief convoy comes under fire-Daily Star
Palestinian refugees dread shift of army focus to Beddawi camp-Daily Star

Rice Defends Lebanese Government's Clamping Down on Militants
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has defended the Lebanese government's actions against Fatah al-Islam at the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon. "The Saniora government is fighting against a very tough extremist foe," Rice said Tuesday after three days of heavy clashes between the army and militants. "But Lebanon is doing the right thing to try to protect its population, to assert its sovereignty and so we are very supportive of the Saniora government and what it is trying to do," she told reporters in Washington. Rice discussed the situation in Lebanon with Swedish Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Bildt on Tuesday. Beirut, 23 May 07, 08:08

Sarkozy Adamant to Speed up Tribunal Establishment Efforts
France's new President Nicolas Sarkozy has said he was determined to speed up efforts to set up the international tribunal that would try ex-Premier Rafik Hariri's suspected assassins. Speaking by telephone Tuesday to Premier Fouad Saniora following the latest violence in Lebanon, Sarkozy "recalled his determination to continue joint efforts by the United Nations to set up an international tribunal," his spokesman said in Paris. "Events in Tripoli and the Beirut killings must prompt us to move more quickly and speed efforts already under way," Sarkozy was quoted as saying. A draft resolution has been put forward by the U.S., France and Britain to set up the court to hear the Hariri case. Sarkozy also touched upon the latest upsurge of violence in northern Lebanon, where the army has been trying to dislodge Fatah al-Islam fighters entrenched in the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp near the city of Tripoli. Two bombings have also rocked Beirut's Ashrafiyeh and Verdun districts this week. Sarkozy said France would "always be at the side of Lebanon," according to his spokesman. "We must not give in to intimidation," Sarkozy was quoted as saying as he expressed solidarity with the Lebanese government in its latest struggle. "We must not give in to blackmail. It would be the wrong signal to those who seek the destabilization of Lebanon to give in to their demands," Sarkozy said. "Not to act would be tantamount to giving in to threat and intimidation."(AFP-Naharnet)
Beirut, 23 May 07, 07:45

May 22,2007
The Lebanese Information Center in the US, reflecting the sentiments of concerned Lebanese-Americans, expresses its support and its gratitude to the Lebanese Army and to Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces as they bravely confront the terrorist “Fateh Al Islam” faction. The latest aggression against the Lebanese Army by the said terrorist group is yet another deplorable attempt by agents of the Iranian and Syrian regimes to destabilize Lebanon and to turn the country that has historically been a beacon for moderation, democracy and progress in the Middle East into a satellite state of their extremist and violent ideology.
The Lebanese Information Center further maintains that:
1. Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon must not remain islands of lawlessness and breeding grounds for terrorism. They must be subject to the authority and to the sovereignty of the Lebanese government.
2. Hezbollah and other militias must completely disarm, in accordance with both the Taif Accord and relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions.
3. Lebanese political leaders of all inclinations should agree that the Lebanese Army and the Internal Security Forces must be the only entities that should be allowed to be armed anywhere on the Lebanese territory.
4. Punitive measures by the international community must continue and escalate against the Syrian and the Iranian regimes until they cease their efforts to turn Lebanon into a launching pad for regional destabilization as a means of deflecting international pressure against their tyrannical rules.
The Lebanese Information Center offers its heartfelt condolences to the families of the soldiers and of the fallen innocent civilians and prays for Lebanon to come out stronger, united and victorious.
© 2007 Lebanese Information Center –

15,000 Palestinians Flee Camp, 20 Civilian Bodies Retrieved
About 15,000 Palestinian residents have fled the battered refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared when a lull following three days of ferocious fighting between Lebanese troops and Fatah al-Islam militants took hold, relief officials said Wednesday. Those fleeing reported bodies littering the camp's streets and scenes of blasted buildings and destruction. Taleb al-Salhani, a security officer of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency said Wednesday the bodies of 20 civilians -- men, women and children -- have been retrieved from the camp. But the total number of civilian casualties remained unknown.
But it was unclear how long the truce would hold, and there were fears that allowing civilians out could be a prelude for a major showdown.
Prime Minister Fouad Saniora's government vowed to finish off extremist militants from Fatah al-Islam, holed up inside Nahr al-Bared, and the army has said its troops were trying to target only militant positions. Fatah al-Islam, which took up residence in the camp late last year, has vowed to fight a "life or death battle."
The cease-fire which went into effect Tuesday afternoon didn't begin to take hold until after sunset. With the guns largely falling silent, thousands of refugees dashed out of the camp after being pinned down since fighting broke out Sunday.
But earlier, a relief convoy came under fire as U.N. workers tried to deliver food and water to residents in Nahr al-Bared, home to more than 30,000 refugees. A U.N. official said some who approached the convoy seeking supplies were wounded or killed, but he did not have exact figures.
The refugees have largely moved to a nearby Palestinian refugee camp at Beddawi, where shelter, mattresses, food and water had been provided.
Twenty-nine Lebanese soldiers and at least 20 militants had been killed since the battles began Sunday in the heaviest internal fighting in Lebanon since the 1975-90 civil war. The clashes raises the ominous prospect that parts of Lebanon could become havens for terrorists training to attack the West -- similar to lawless regions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Fatah al-Islam's leader, Palestinian Shaker al-Absi, has been linked to the former head of al-Qaida in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and is believed to have recruited about 100 fighters, including militants from Saudi Arabia, Yemen and other Arab countries.
The military's attack at the camp also has raised fears the fighting could destabilize Lebanon's uneasy balance among its many religious sects and factions.
EU foreign policy envoy Javier Solana, who met with rival political leaders, had appealed for a halt to the bloodshed. "I am hoping very much for calm," he said after meeting Prime Minister Fouad Saniora.Saniora's government already faces a domestic political crisis, with the Hizbullah-led opposition campaigning for its removal.
But so far, the opposition has supported the assault. Hizbullah issued a statement stressing the military's duty to safeguard the country.
Lebanese security officials accuse Syria of using Fatah al-Islam to destabilize Lebanon, a charge Damascus denies. Syria controlled Lebanon for decades until growing street demonstrations by Lebanese and international pressure forced it to withdraw its troops after the assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri.(Naharnet-AP) Beirut, 23 May 07, 07:13

Camp Warns of Civilian 'Massacre' if Fatah Moves In to Crush Extremists
The local committee of Nahr al-Bared warned of an imminent "massacre" of civilians if the mainstream Fatah faction moved in to crush Fatah al-Islam in the northern Palestinian refugee camp.A statement by the committee, which represents the camp's civilian population, said it has received information that Fatah has prepared a 300-strong battalion headed by Sultan Abul Ainain to "storm" Nahr al-Bared to deal with extremists from Fatah al-Islam. "We call on all free and honorable men to take action to protect the camp from a massacre that would claim hundreds of innocent lives," said the statement faxed to the daily An Nahar. Abul Ainain warned on Tuesday of an uprising by Palestinian refugees across Lebanon if the army continues to shell Nahr al-Bared where Fatah al-Islam fighters are holed up. "If the random shelling does not stop in the Nahr al-Bared camp there will be uprisings in all the camps in Lebanon," Abul Ainain said from the nearby Beddawi refugee camp. The statement by the local committee said outcome of talks between Sunni cleric Fathi Yakan, who supports Hizbullah, and Fatah al-Islam leader Shaker Absi in Nahr al-Bared was not disclosed. It said the meeting between Absi and the Sunni cleric came following a May 8 visit Yakan made to Damascus. Beirut, 23 May 07, 11:22

PLO Won't Object to Army Entering Camp, Militants Vow No Surrender
Palestine Liberation Organization representative Abbas Zaki on Wednesday said it was up to the Lebanese army to decide whether to storm Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp where Fatah al-Islam militants are holed up. "This is a Lebanese decision," said Zaki despite a decades-old arrangement under which Palestinian camps remain outside the government's control. "We have declared that the country is for Lebanon and sovereignty is for Lebanon, and whatever Lebanon decides or considers its higher interests, we support it," he told reporters in Bkiriki where he held talks with Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir.
Lebanon has vowed to wipe out the militants who had been locked in three days of fierce gunbattles with government troops around Nahr al-Bared.
Fatah al-Islam's spokesman Abu Salim Taha told Agence France Presse on Wednesday the group would abide by a truce but vowed its militants would not surrender.
"We respect the truce, but we will not surrender. If we are attacked, we will fight until the last drop of blood," Abu Salim said. "The civilians are free to exit the camp. We will not stop them," he added. Fatah al-Islam declared a unilateral truce on Tuesday after three days of fighting. Refugees caught up in the clashes were continuing to flee the battered camp on Wednesday after the guns fell silent.(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 23 May 07, 10:22

13 Fatah Islam Militants Fleeing by Boat Killed, Group's No. 2 Wounded
Fatah al-Islam's No. 2 man and son-in-law of the extremist group's leader Shaker Absi has been reportedly wounded during clashes with Lebanese troops in the northern refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared. The daily An Nahar did not identify Absi's relative, but said his foot was blown off in the fighting. It said 13 other Fatah al-Islam militants were shot and killed by Lebanese army fire as they tried to flee Nahr al-Bared by boat to the southern refugee camp of Ein el-Hilweh. An Nahar said other Fatah al-Islam fighters were arrested and handed over to the intelligence bureau. The report could not be independently verified. An Nahar also said Lebanese troops dragged the bodies of 40 Fatah al-Islam fighters, many of them from different African nationalities.(AP photo shows a Lebanese soldier detaining a man that the army suspects of belonging to Fatah al-Islam) Beirut, 23 May 07, 09:36

Lahoud Demands Handover of Blameworthy Fatah al-Islam Militants
President Emile Lahoud has demanded the handover of Fatah al-Islam militants and called on major Palestinian factions to wrest control of the northern Nahr al-Bared refugee camp from the extremists as a way to end the three-day-old fighting.
Lahoud's comments at a news conference on Tuesday came after the cabinet ordered the Lebanese army to take the necessary action to finish off Fatah al-Islam.
"What should happen is the handover to justice all those who attacked the Lebanese army. This is at the core of the efforts exerted now," said Lahoud, a former four-star general and army commander. The fighting began Sunday when Lebanese police raided al-Qaida-inspired Fatah al-Islam militants in the nearby city of Tripoli suspected of involvement in a bank robbery. Fatah al-Islam fighters retaliated by attacking troops, prompting the siege of the refugee camp.
Lahoud said "Palestinian factions should detain Fatah al-Islam members and put an end to its activities, because these factions are in charge of security in the camps and not the Lebanese state." A nearly 40-year-old agreement gives the Palestine Liberation Organization authority over the camps, barring Lebanese security forces from entering. Lahoud, who is locked in a power struggle with Prime Minister Fouad Saniora and the parliamentary majority, also called on divided Lebanese politicians to resolve a long political crisis between the government and the opposition and rally behind the army.
He called for the formation of a national unity government -- an opposition demand -- to coincide with ending a six-month-old sit-in encampment by the Hizbullah-led opposition outside Saniora's downtown office. Ending the sit-in which has crippled businesses in the downtown area has been a demand of the pro-government March 14 coalition. (Naharnet-AFP) Beirut, 23 May 07, 08:44

U.S. Challenges Syria, Daring It to Obstruct Tribunal
The United States on Tuesday warned Syria against any attempt to block an international trial to try suspects in the assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri and reiterated its support for Prime Minister Fouad Saniora's government. "The United States reaffirms its support for Prime Minister (Fouad) Saniora and Lebanon's legitimate and democratically elected government as it faces down the threat of terrorism and political violence," said White House spokesman Tony Snow.
"We will not tolerate attempts by Syria, terrorist groups or any others to delay or derail Lebanon's efforts to solidify its sovereignty or to seek justice in the Hariri case -- or for that matter to take on the violence that continues to plague the country," he told reporters in Washington. "We believe those behind the attacks have two clear goals: to disrupt Lebanon's security and to distract the international attention from the effort to establish the special tribunal for Lebanon," said Snow. Snow said the United States did not know whether Syria was involved in stoking the violence, stressing: "We are still studying precisely what it is going on but it is important to send the signal. "The Syrians have said that they wish to play a constructive role. "One constructive role is make sure that you're not part of the violence," the spokesman said. But Fatah al-Islam fighters and their supporters "seek to deny the people of Lebanon the democracy, peace and stability they deserve," Snow said, vowing a "redoubled effort" at the U.N. Security Council to create the tribunal.(Naharnet-AFP) Beirut, 22 May 07, 23:24