Despite the Syrian army's presidential order to cease fire in Lebanon, heavy fighting continues in many areas.
Despite the Syrian army's presidential order to cease fire in Lebanon, heavy fighting continues in many areas. Right-wing Christian forces, whom the Syrians have been supporting, were concentrating on their efforts to take the Palestinian town of Aley on Saturday (16 October).
SYNOPSIS: The rightists advanced on Aley, which lies just eight miles (12 kilometres) southeast of Beirut.
They made their entrance from the Beirut-Damascus highway and began climbing surrounding hills and mountains to fire directly down on Aley. But while the Syrians did not actually fight, their troops and tanks moved around the area to take up positions on the opposite approach to the town.
With the leftists in Aley surrounded, the right-wing Christian forces moved forward, and heavy fighting broke out.
The Syrians already controlled the neighbouring town of Bhamdoun, and the combined Syrian and right-wing armies were now ominously close to the left-wing Moslem quarter of the Lebanese capital, Beirut. The fighting took place during fresh rescue attempts by the combined Arab world - the latest in Saudi Arabia. The Syrian army was poised on the outskirts of Aley when they were ordered to stop firing.
However, the ceasefire, ordered by Syrian president Hafez Al-Assad before he left for the peace conference, appears to have made little difference to Syrian activity around Aley. A Reuter report, which quotes the Palestinian news agency Wafa, said on Sunday (October 17) that the Syrians had begun fresh attacks. Syrian gunners were reported to have launched a heavy attack in and around Aley.
A later report on Monday (October 18) said that both Christian and Palestinian radio stations were reporting skirmishes on the eastern outskirts of the battered mountain stronghold. The Palestinian news agency said that the Syrians had been shelling the Aley area from Bhamdoun, captured last week after three days of savage house-to-house fighting.