U.S. Lands in Violence-Ravaged Lebanon

The U.S. is trying to help Lebanon during a lull in fighting.

ByABC News
May 26, 2007, 3:50 PM

May 26, 2007 — -- U.S. military cargo planes have been landing in Beirut this weekend to help supply the Lebanese army in its fight against insurgents holed-up in a refugee camp.

The tense stand-off has lasted nearly a week, and the Lebanese troops have beseiged the Nahr al-Bared camp, home to Palestinian refugees. Several days of fierce fighting led to concerns that civilians could be killed as the army launched its assault against al Qaeda-linked insurgents, some of whom had been fighting against U.S. forces in Iraq.

Relief organizations have been trying to use a brief lull in the fighting to ferry-out people who wanted to leave and to supply the camp with much-needed food, water and medical supplies. Thousands of people have already fled, and that has placed a burden on other nearby Palestinian refugee camps, which have existed as huge slums for 60 years. Some camps have doubled in size since this latest crisis began.

Across Lebanon this week, the country has been wracked by violence. There have been three suicide bombings, but it's not clear who is behind them, whether it was the insurgents striking back, or neighboring Syria, which has long pulled the strings in Lebanon, stirring-up trouble. Nobody knows for sure, but everybody is bracing for more trouble.

The arrival of U.S. transport planes has people on the streets buzzing. U.S. involvment here is controversial in a nation divided between a moderate, U.S.-backed government, and Hezbollah, which receives support from Syria and Iran.

It is a tense time for Lebanon. Around Beirut, shops and restaurants that are normally bustling at lunchtime now lie empty, as the military keeps a watchful eye.

"People are staying at home, safe, not going out," said one man. Another told us, "We pray a lot, because we really want this to end."

Friday, Lebanon celebrated Liberation Day, marking the end of Israel's 22-year occupation of Southern Lebanon. But this weekend, there is little to celebrate.

ABC News' David Wright, Angus Hines and Patty Martell contributed to this report.