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The War of the Camps

Just as relative calm was restored to Christian East Beirut, fighting broke out again in Muslim West Beirut. Under Syria's aegis, the Shia Amal organization attempted to consolidate its control over West Beirut. Amal struck first in an April 15 assault that routed the once-formidable Sunni Murabitun militia of the Independent Nasserite Movement in a matter of days and sent its leader, Ibrahim Kulaylat, into exile. Then it turned its attention to the Palestinians in the refugee camps of Sabra, Shatila, and Burj al Barajinah. The Palestinians, with indirect support from the Druzes, put up stiff resistance against the Amal attacks, however. Although some 500 Palestinians were killed in the battles and about 25,000 took refuge in Druze-controlled areas, the Palestinians retained control of the camps. But the Palestinians were confined to their camps by an Amal siege that was to last on and off for another two years before Syrian forces dispersed the Shias.

Data as of December 1987