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Thousands Flee Scene of Fighting in Lebanon


Thousands of civilians have fled a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon, as a truce eased three days of fierce fighting between Islamic militants and Lebanese troops.

Many people waved white towels as they escaped the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp near the city of Tripoli.

Earlier Tuesday, a U.N. aid convoy came under fire as it entered the camp. Witnesses say two Palestinians were killed in the attack.

The aid convoy arrived in the camp after the militant group Fatah al-Islam announced a unilateral ceasefire in its battle with Lebanese troops. More than 75 people have died since the fighting began Sunday.

Fatah al-Islam is believed to have ties to al-Qaida and is based in the camp.

In Washington, the U.S. State Department said a military aid request from Lebanon's government amid the current fighting is under consideration.

A State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack called Fatah al-Islam a "separate and violent extremist group" that is affiliated with al-Qaida.

The leader of the group, Shaker Abssi was sentenced to death in absentia by a Jordanian court for the 2002 murder in Amman of U.S. diplomat Laurence Foley.

A White House spokesman, Tony Snow said the United States reaffirms its support for Lebanon's democratically elected government as it faces the threat of terrorism and political violence.

The battles on the outskirts of Tripoli are said to be the worst internal fighting since Lebanon's 15-year civil war ended in 1990.
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