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Hezbollah to Lebanese army: Stay out of refugee camp

Story Highlights

• Leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah warns camp entry is "crossing red line"
• Hezbollah is confronting Islamic militants in Palestinian refugee camp
• Hezbollah is a Shiite organization that views al Qaeda as an enemy
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(CNN) -- The leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, has warned the Lebanese army not to enter the Palestinian refugee camp north of Tripoli where it has been confronting Islamic militants.

Nasrallah -- in a televised address to mark the seventh anniversary of Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon -- said that to enter the camp would be crossing a red line, and the Palestinians should not be touched.

"Suppose that the government is having a war on terror, that doesn't mean they should kill half of the people on the street," he said in a reference to Palestinian civilians crammed into the Nahr el-Bared camp. (Read about Lebanon's warning to militants)

He also criticized the militants of Fatah al-Islam, who are holed up inside the camp, accusing them of an aggression against the army that was an aggression against all of Lebanon.

Hezbollah, a Shiite organization, views extremist Sunni groups such as al Qaeda and Fatah al-Islam as enemies.

Nasrallah said that a negotiated political settlement according to the rule of law should be reached to preserve the integrity of the Lebanese army. The Lebanese military stays out of the Palestinian camps under a 1969 agreement that allows the Palestinians to run them.

Siniora: We are not killers

Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora told CNN's Brent Sadler he considers the battle part of the war on terrorism, not a conflict between Lebanon and the Palestinians. "To the contrary, I believe strongly that this war is targeting Lebanon on the one hand and the Palestinians on the other," he said.

"Either they will surrender, or the Lebanese government and the Lebanese army is going to really pursue the matter to the end," Siniora said. "If left, I can assure you, this is going to be very contagious. It's like cancer. It has to be really removed completely, otherwise it's going to expand. ...

"I believe that what we are doing, it is in the interest of the Palestinians, it is in the interest of the Lebanese," Siniora said. (Watch Lebanese PM Fouad Siniora say the army are not killers Video)

Nasrallah was also critical of the Lebanese government's request to the United States for military aid during the crisis.

"We should be aware of the American interference," he said. "[As for] the American intervention in this incident there should be an investigation into who took the decision."

The Hezbollah leader also said that Lebanon must not be allowed to become a battleground between the army and groups affiliated with al Qaeda. He said this would tempt the United States to bring the war on terror to Lebanese soil, as it had in Iraq.

"Are you willing to fight the wars of others inside Lebanon?" he asked his audience. "I want to warn that we should not be dragged by the Americans to fight their battle in Lebanon."

Nasrallah also called for the formation of an emergency government of national unity to tackle Lebanon's political crisis. Hezbollah has long been critical of the Siniora's government.

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Lebanese soldiers patrol Tripoli near the refugee camp that has become a battleground.


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