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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lebanese Army, Militants Battle For Control of Besieged Camp

NAHR AL-BARED, Lebanon -- Sporadic fighting erupted Tuesday between the Lebanese army and Sunni Islamist militants holed up in a battered Palestinian camp, with no sign of progress in efforts to mediate an end to a 10-day standoff.

The clashes at the Mediterranean camp in north Lebanon occurred while scores of Palestinian refugees in the Beddawi camp who had fled from the nearby Nahr al-Bared held a protest to demand a permanent cease-fire to let them return home.

Intermittent but deadly clashes between Lebanese troops and al-Qaida-inspired Fatah Islam militants have punctured a fragile truce that was enforced last week to allow the camp's 40,000 refugees to flee due to lack of food, water and power.

One Lebanese soldier was killed in clashes early Tuesday, bringing the total death toll in Lebanon's worst internal fighting since the 1975-1990 civil war to at least 79 people -- 34 soldiers, 27 militants and 18 civilians.

The Lebanese government has demanded the militants surrender, but Palestinian leaders mediating in the standoff say Fatah Islam is refusing to hand over their fighters.

The Palestinian leaders' plan also includes a permanent cease-fire in the camp, the pullback of Fatah Islam fighters and the deployment of a Palestinian force to oversee the truce.

"There is no progress in the efforts to find a solution. There is a need to move quickly but that is not happening," an unidentified Palestinian mediator said.

He said the crisis could deepen if it was not resolved soon because the militants and their sleeper cells "will get the chance to catch their breath and launch attacks elsewhere.