Syrian troops began the evacuation of parts of the Christian Ashrafiyeh district of East Beirut at dawn on Thursday (10 August).
Syrian troops began the evacuation of parts of the Christian Ashrafiyeh district of East Beirut at dawn on Thursday (10 August). It was part of an agreement between the right-wing militia and the 30,000 strong Syrian-dominated Arab league peace-keeping force to defuse tension in the city. Many rightists saw the Syrians as an army of occupation and want them out of Lebanon altogether.
SYNOPSIS: The Ashrafiyeh district of Beirut has been the scene of fierce battles in the last few weeks between Syrian troops and Lebanese Christians.
Under the terms of the agreement, announced by the right-wing Falangist Radio on Wednesday night (9 August), security in Ashrafiyeh will be taken over by Lebanese gendarmes.
The rightist militia and the Syrians have accused each other of trying to assume control over Lebanon.
Rightist commanders have instructed their men to cease fire on all fronts and stop carrying guns in public in Ashrafiyeh. On Thursday (10 August) people went about their work as things appeared to be calm. But whether the evacuation will lead to an end to the conflict between the Rightists and the Syrian troops, remains to be seen.
Some shooting on Thursday (10 August) was reported as the Syrians were leaving the last of six buildings near Ashrafiyeh's main square. Firing is said to have lasted about twenty minutes, but details were confused and there were no immediate reports of casualties.
The number of Syrian soldiers affected by the evacuation was not officially released but informed rightist sources put it at 120 men. The sources said the agreement, described as a truce accord rather than a security plan by senior government officials, stipulated the eventual replacement of Syrian troops in East Beirut by Saudi or Sudanese elements of the peace force.