File - A gunman in the camp sits near graffiti that says “Ain al-Hilweh is a red line.”
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Radical Islamist groups went on armed alert in Ain al-Hilweh over the weekend, heightening tension in Lebanon's largest Palestinian refugee camp and raising fears of renewed fighting between rival factions, Palestinian sources said Sunday.The camp was rocked recently by inter-Palestinian fighting and a string of assassinations targeting members of rival Islamist groups, some of which are affiliated with Al-Qaeda.Rival Islamist groups, Osbat al-Ansar, and factions integrated into the so-called "Muslim Youth," deployed gunmen in their neighborhoods in the camp overnight Saturday in what appeared to be precautionary measures to forestall attacks on their posts, the sources said. Headed by Palestinian Islamist Osama Shehabi, the Muslim Youth includes the remaining members of Al-Qaeda-linked groups in the camp such as Fatah al-Islam, Jund al-Sham and the Abdullah Azzam Brigades. The sources added that the deployment of gunmen by Osbat al-Ansar was not only in response to the Muslim Youth meeting, but also after the group received information that one of Muslim Youth's factions was preparing to assassinate a senior Osbat official identified as Taha Shreidi in retaliation for the killing of Shehabi's nephew Ali Khalil.A media spokesman for Osbat al-Ansar warned of renewed fighting in the camp as a result of simmering tension between rival Islamist groups.
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