Syria and Lebanon are holding high-level talks on the current clashes between Christian militia and Arab peace troops in Beirut and surrounding areas.
Syria and Lebanon are holding high-level talks on the current clashes between Christian militia and Arab peace troops in Beirut and surrounding areas. lebanese Foreign Minister, Mr. Fuad Butros, flew to Damascus on Monday (28 August) for discussions with Syrian President Hafez al-Assad in an attempt to defuse the situation. Rightwing Christian Militias say they now consider the Syrians - who make up the largest part of the Arab peacekeeping force in Lebanon - as an army of occupation. The Syrians and Rightists have been locked in a series of increasingly violent battles, not only in Beirut but in areas to the north and south as well.
SYNOPSIS: One of the afflicted areas of Beirut is the Christian district of Aim Rummaneh. A frequent target recently for shelling attacks, the district suffered sniping attacks as well on Sunday and Monday (27 and 28 August). Rightist defenders erected barricades on main streets, using wrecked cars in some cases.
Christian militiamen patrolled the streets in heavily armed jeeps or on foot, and reportedly engaged in sporadic exchanges of machinegun fire with Syrian troops in neighbouring Shiyah. On Monday (28 August), residents of the battered area claimed shells were once more slamming into the streets, sending civilians racing for the safety of basement shelters. Meanwhile militia officials reported that calm had returned to villages north of Beirut after several days of fighting.
The situation in the south remained confused, with Israeli-backed rightists reported to have shelled a village a few miles north of the sensitive frontier with Israel.
In Ain Rummaneh one man was reported wounded by sniper fire on Sunday, with gunfire intensifying during the day between the factions. The renewed violence, coupled with tough statements from Israel and Syria, is fuelling fears that those two countries may launch an outright confrontation over Lebanon.