The Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh in southern Lebanon has witnessed six days of intense clashes that have pitted a coalition of Palestinian forces against jihadi factions led by Bilal Badr. The gunfights, which began April 7, have killed at least eight people and, according to Palestinian sources, are linked to the presence of a jihadi cell in the camp that is affiliated with radical organizations such as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) and the Islamic State (IS).
“We have every intention of arresting Bilal Badr: He has wreaked havoc in the camp. While the official death count is at eight, we believe that around 12 to 13 people have been killed in the fight," said Fouad Othman, the head of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP).
Badr heads the radical group al-Shabab al-Muslim (Muslim Youth), a coalition that includes remnants of extremist organizations such as Fatah al-Islam and Jund al-Sham. Fatah al-Islam fought the Lebanese army in a three-month battle in 2007 in North Lebanon. Jund al-Sham was also implicated in several rounds of clashes with the Lebanese army in Sidon.
“Followers of Badr are for the most part affiliated with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. There are elements that have pledged allegiance to IS and fought with Badr in the last few days,” a source who has knowledge of Islamic affairs in the camp told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity.