United Nations forces have moved into the village of Braachit in southern Lebanon in defiance of opposition by rebel Lebanese Army, Major Saad Haddad who has set up an independent "Free Lebanon" state along the country's southern border, with the help of Israeli forces.
United Nations forces have moved into the village of Braachit in southern Lebanon in defiance of opposition by rebel Lebanese Army, Major Saad Haddad who has set up an independent "Free Lebanon" state along the country's southern border, with the help of Israeli forces. The United Nations forces are coming under pressure from the Lebanese authorities to act as a "strike force" in the area. meanwhile the Lebanese Army is being reorganised to paly a more authoritative role in exercising government rule in the troubled south and the suburbs of Beirut.
SYNOPSIS: The Lebanese Army has about eighteen thousand men and new recruits are being taken in monthly. Two hundred new soldiers are training here at Yarzeh, outside Beirut.
Lebanon's eighteen month civil war left the Lebanese Army in disarray. Many soldiers deserted to join warring Militia groups and to form their own rebel units.
Recent legislation before the Lebanese parliament aims to re-build the army. The top command has been reorganised under a new law aimed at making the army, traditionally dominated by Christians, more acceptable to all sides. And according to the army seven hundred men are joining each month.
In their first real test last month, five hundred Lebanese Army troops were sent into areas in the south that had been pacified by United Nations forces. They were shelled by Christian Militiamen under the command of renegade Army Major Saad Haddad. And after completing a short tour of duty were pulled out of the area.
The Lebanese government says it will try Major Haddad for treachery. In turn he's threatened further attacks on Lebanese government forces if they try and intrude into his "First Lebanon" state. Despite the recruiting drive the army is still at less than half strength and will have to develop quickly if is to adequately take over the peacekeeping role of Arab League and UNIFIL forces.
Already however, Army troops are performing security duties in an around beirut, searching cars for suspected guerrillas, arms and ammunition. The Army Information chief, Major Mahmoud Mattap was reported by Britain's Guardian newspaper as saying that the army knows it can't restore order by force. Major Mattap says that would take fifty thousand men. There can only be order, he says if there is a national political accord.