The First of August was Army Day in Lebanon and the country's President Elias Sarkis and government members officiated at a ceremony in East Beirut to mark the event.
The First of August was Army Day in Lebanon and the country's President Elias Sarkis and government members officiated at a ceremony in East Beirut to mark the event. President Sarkis, addressing the troops, said that the most important aspect of the Lebanese army's role was "the restoration of complete and clear national sovereignty over every inch of Lebanese territory". The army day ceremonies took place as Lebanese Regular forces attempted to deploy into South Lebanon. The region was occupied by Israel for three months until mid-June and is now in the control of right-wing Christian militias.
SYNOPSIS: The Army Day parade took place at the Ministry of Defence at Yarze, in East Beirut, on Tuesday (1 August). The day before, the first bid to deploy Regular Lebanese troops to the south of Lebanon since the 1975-1976 war was attempted, but the troops were forced back by Israeli-backed rightists who shelled them and erected roadblocks. Five-hundred Lebanese supported by armour, were prevented from entering areas along the Israeli border.
President Sarkis reviewed the troops before addressing the officers and men.
Lebanon is currently the host to some 50,000 foreign troops from more than a dozen nations. But, according to President Sarkis, the deployment of Regular troops is only the beginning of the full national role which the army is soon to play, in other parts of the country.
In his address, President Sarkis did not mention the attempt to advance the Regular army into Southern Lebanon had failed. Fresh outbreaks of violence were reported in Beirut, only a few hours after his speech. It was also announced, during the ceremony, that the government would impose compulsory military service next year. But diplomats said they thought full restoration of Lebanese sovereignty was as unlikely in the foreseeable future as the introduction of compulsory service. The Lebanese Government is blaming Israel for the difficulty faced by its army units, and charged that it was Israel who shelled them in the southern advance. The Israelis have claimed Lebanese troops are under Syrian control.