War of the Camps
The War of the Camps was a struggle for control over West Beirut and was considered an extension of the political struggle between Syria and the PLO. It took place between May 1985 and January 1988. The fighting extended to South Beirut and South Lebanon, which translated into heavy fighting between the Syrian backed Shi`a militia Amal, headed by Nabih Berri, and various Palestinian organizations, including the PFLP and PLO, which had returned to the camps in Beirut and Saida. The
first clashes had taken place already in June and July 1984. In 1985, with the Israeli Army evacuating towns in the regions of Sour and Nabatieh, Amal assumed control, setting up positions around the Palestinian camps of Rashidiyyeh and al-Buss.
On May 19, 1985, Amal—supported by the Lebanese Army Sixth Brigade—laid siege to the Palestinian camps of Sabra, Chatila, and Burj al-Barajneh. By early June, Sabra had been destroyed, and in Chatila, the PLO fighters were trapped in a tiny area. Amal blockaded Burj al-Barajneh. The PFLP and PLO, positioned in the Shuf, were shelling Beirut’s southern suburbs, where Amal was mainly based.