But the siege of the camp will continue until the leaders surrender, which is far better than letting the jihadists flee and melt into the general population to fight another day. It may also have some deterrent effect on similar groups.
“Lebanon declares victory in war on militants,” by Nadim Ladki for Reuters:
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon declared victory on Thursday in its 33-day war against an al Qaeda-inspired militant group at a Palestinian refugee camp and said its military operation there was over.
I can tell the Lebanese that as of now the military operation in Nahr al-Bared is finished,” Defence Minister Elias al-Murr told Lebanon’s LBC television.
“All the positions of the terrorists have been crushed,” he said, adding that the surviving members of Fatah al-Islam had pulled back from the edges of Nahr al-Bared into civilian areas deep in the camp.
“I dedicate this victory to the Lebanese people … all of the Lebanese people.”
Murr said the army would maintain a siege around the camp until all Fatah al-Islam militants surrendered, including their leader Shaker al-Abssi.
“They have to surrender … It’s not good enough to say Abssi was killed, if he
is dead, give us the body,” he said. Murr said the army was continuing some mopping up operations and defusing mines and booby traps at the outskirts of the camp.
A source at a grouping of Palestinian Muslim clerics, which had tried to mediate an end to the battles, said Fatah al-Islam official Shahine Shahine told the mediators the group welcomed the Lebanese announcement of an end to the operation.
“He told us that Fatah al-Islam declares a ceasefire,” the source told Reuters.