BEIRUT: Two prominent wanted men who left the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in south Lebanon last year have returned, sources in the camp told The Daily Star Tuesday. The first man to return to the camp near the city of Sidon was identified by the source in Ain al-Hilweh as Malik Agha, who had previously been arrested in Sidon’s old city after clashes in nearby Abra in 2013.
He was arrested at the time for his allegiance to Salafist Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir, who was sentenced to death last September for is role in rallying fighters to take part in the clashes.
The 2013 fighting left 18 Army soldiers and 40 Assir loyalists dead.
Agha was later released before being named in the investigation into a separate terrorism case, at which point he fled to Ain al-Hilweh. The source said that at a later date he was believed to have departed for Syria’s Idlib province – a region held by rebel and militant groups in the war-torn country’s northwest. The source couldn’t confirm exactly when Agha had left Ain al-Hilweh.
The second man was identified as Khaled Safadi, who appeared alongside Palestinian militant Bilal Badr in a video last year in Idlib. Badr is one of the most wanted men to have operated in Ain al-Hilweh, and is responsible for repeated clashes between hard-line groups and the camp’s joint Palestinian security forces.
Badr left the camp several months ago for an unknown location in Syria. In August, armed clashes between militants loyal to Badr and the Fatah Movement in Ain al-Hilweh left at least six people dead and 60 injured.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 28, 2018, on page 2.