00:42 GMT +3 hours29 November 2014
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Moscow urges Lebanon to avoid civilian deaths in camp clashes

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MOSCOW, June 5 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Foreign Ministry spokesman called on the Lebanese army to avoid civilian casualties in clashes with Fatah al-Islam militants at a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon.

The Lebanese army has been locked in fierce violence for over two weeks with Fatah al-Islam, allegedly linked to al-Qaida, at the northern Nahr al-Barad camp near Tripoli. On Friday the army began bombarding the camp with artillery fire.

"It is important to avoid losses among civilians at the Palestinian refugee camps who have nothing to do with the terrorists," Mikhail Kamynin said.

Over 100 people have been killed since the fighting started May 20. The 250-strong Fatah al-Islam has lost about 60 militants and the Lebanese army about 45 soldiers.

Meanwhile, the Al-Jazeera television channel said a few militants had surrendered to the Palestinian pro-presidential Fatah movement Monday night. The Lebanese national news agency said they numbered about six. A Fatah spokesman said a few more militants had also turned themselves in to the Lebanese army.

The Lebanese ambassador in Moscow, Asem Jaber, said Lebanon was doing its best to keep the number of civilian deaths to a minimum, which is the reason for the slow pace of the Lebanese army's operations.

"If it [the army] had not paid any attention to people's safety, this issue would have long been resolved," he said, adding that only 3,000 civilians remained at the camp, compared to an initial figure of 25-30,000.

Jaber said the refugees had left the camp using a corridor set up by the Lebanese military.

On Sunday, the violence spread to a second Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon. Two Lebanese soldiers died in shootouts with another Sunni militant group, Jund al-Sham, and two militants were killed at the Ain al-Hilweh camp on the Mediterranean.