About 1,000 right-wing Phalangist troops a week graduate from a training camp in a remote and secret mountain area of Lebanon.
About 1,000 right-wing Phalangist troops a week graduate from a training camp in a remote and secret mountain area of Lebanon. Backed by Israel, right-wing troops including Phalangists have been fighting for almost a year in South Lebanon against a force of Palestinian guerrillas and Lebanese left-wing troops. The leader of the right-wing coalition Lebanese Front, Camille Chamoun, said in Beirut on Saturday (10 September) that a plan to end this fighting was likely to come into force within weeks.
SYNOPSIS: Repeated clashes between the two forces have been going on since last November, when the Lebanese civil war was ended. At the time Arab League troops, mostly Syrian, stopped the war elsewhere in Lebanon. But Israeli objections to a powerful non-Lebanese Arab army near its frontiers kept peacekeeping troops out of the south.
The River Litani is the unofficial 'red line' below which Israel reportedly would not tolerate the Arab league troops. Clashes began between Lebanese right-wing militiamen, backed by Israel artillery, and left-wing Palestinian and Lebanese guerrillas. Phalangists, seen here undergoing combat training, are among the right-wing combatants.
Mr Chamoun's latest announcement on ending the fighting came after a meeting on Friday (9 September) with Lebanese president Elias Sarkis. Mr Chamoun indicated that Israel has agreed not to block the peace moves, which flow from the so-called 'Chtaura agreement'. This was worked out by Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian leaders in July. Western diplomatic sources in Beirut have said they expect Israel's acceptance of the plan 'quite soon'. Under the plan, both sides would withdraw forces from certain areas and Lebanese forces would replace them.
Palestinian forces have reportedly agreed that the scheme should be implemented before the end of September. Syrian leaders are said to be anxious for it to go into effect. They've been worried about Israeli advantage stemming from their rightist-Christian allies controlling the strategically important enclave of Merjayoun. Commanding this area, the Israelis could provide air cover for any tank-led assault along it deeper into Lebanon action the Syrians have increasingly feared. For some time, the United States has been a go-between trying to secure Israeli approval of the agreement.