Clashes in Lebanon Kill 39

By Caroline Miller,  Newser Staff
Posted May 20, 2007 2:20 PM CDT
Lebanese soldiers take cover near an armored personnel carrier during clashes with fighters from the Fatah Islam militant group at Nahr el-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in the northern city of Tripoli,...   (Associated Press)

(Newser) – A gunbattle between the Lebanese army and al-Qaeda-linked militants in Tripoli  today left 22 soldiers and 17 insurgents dead, the AP reports. The fighting—the worst in the city in two decades— began when police raided an apartment occupied by militants. The army later shelled a Palestinian refugee camp which contains the group's headquarters, as hundreds of Lebanese onlookers cheered.

The group, Fatah Islam, is said to be a radical Sunni muslim group with ties to al-Qaeda,  although some Lebanese officials consider it a front for Syrian military intelligence attempting to destabilize Lebanon, the AP reports. Lebanon's western-backed government is embroiled in a political crisis with pro-Syrian opposition.