Tuesday, September 04, 2007
After having run around the Nahr al Bared camp for most parts of Monday, I'm kind of exhausted. Nothing compared to the soldiers of course, whose faces here show signs of total happiness or utter exhaustion. It is very clear the camp has been liberated. Most soldiers extremely relaxed. Saw long columns of Lebanese army tanks and trucks leaving the area.
During the afternoon though, a sudden fire fight erupted. Around half way the main highway (the one leading right next to the camp), around seven militants suddenly appeared and attacked some soldiers. Five militants were killed, two escaped. At the moment of the fighting me and my translator were around three kilometers away from the place where it all took place. So we couldn't see it. But we heard - for about half an hour - sporadic machine gunfire and around five loud explosions.
"Oh, don't tell me that it is still not over," my interpreter said.
"Oh please," I replied.
But after a while it was all quiet again. Due to this incident though, the main road was closed for around two hours. It just shows how volatile the situation here still is.
Well, it was a day filled with happy soldiers, although many had hearing problems. "Oh man," soldiers would tell you, "All these explosions during all these weeks kind of fucked my ears up."
A lot of walking too as we tried to get closer to the fighting and had to cross a lot of mud and the Nahr al Bared river - my shoes and pants are screwed now.
And - especially - a lot of waiting in insane traffic. It seems every Lebanese with a car wants to be around the camp.
Nahr al Bared is still strictly off limits for everybody except the Lebanese army. I have no clue when they are going to allow us in. Need some sleep now.
Big congrats though to all Lebanese soldiers who so bravely fought Al Qaeda - the Army of Mordor!