Fatah al-Islam fighters battling the Lebanese army in a refugee camp have asked for a ceasefire to allow their families and remaining civilians to be evacuated.
Military officials said on Tuesday that they would stop firing artillery shells into Nahr al-Bared in order to allow people to leave but it would agree to a formal truce.
"From the beginning they have been urging civilians to leave the camp, accusing Fatah al-Islam of using them as human shields," Al Jazeera's Zheina Khodr said.
"The Lebanese army is saying it will not accept a ceasefire but it will let allow the family members to leave."
Mohammed Hajj, a spokesman for religious officials trying to broker an end to the fighting, said that a member of the group approached him overnight to arrange a ceasefire.
"Abu Salim Taha contacted us and asked for the civilians, meaning the Fatah al-Islam families, to be evacuated and for the army command to arrange this," Hajj said.
"We contacted the army which welcomed the offer and gave assurances for the safety of the civilians."
Hajj said Fatah al-Islam was counting the number of civilians that needed to be taken out so it could inform officials.
Lebanes and Palestinian sources told Reuters news agency that between 40 and 80 civilians, mostly the wives and children of the fighters, are still in the camp.
A spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross said she was aware of the ongoing negotiations but no formal request had been made to the agency for assistance.
Most of the Palestinian refugee camp's 31,000 residents left soon after the fighting began on May 20.
The fighting has left at least 200 people dead, including 141 soldiers, in the deadliest internal unrest since the country's 1975-1990 civil war.
Sniper fire from inside the camp killed a pregnant Lebanese woman and a Lebanese soldier on Tuesday, the National News Agency said.
Al Jazeera and agencies
Last Mod: 22 Ağustos 2007, 10:47