In Lebanon, Syrian troops and right-wing militiamen have clashed again the devastated commercial quarter of Beirut -- near the trouble-stricken port area.
In Lebanon, Syrian troops and right-wing militiamen have clashed again the devastated commercial quarter of Beirut -- near the trouble-stricken port area. The fighting was reported to have begun in the docks on Sunday (14 October) and soon spread to both sides of the "Green Line", which separates Christian East Beirut from Moslem West Beirut.
SYNOPSIS: Cars drive quickly through Beirut's port area nowadays. It's safer that way. Sunday's fighting between Syrian troops and Christian militiamen was just the latest in a long series of battles that have taken place in this quarter. Devastated during the 1975-1976 civil war, Beirut's commercial area once again felt the impact of heavy shelling, and though no casualties were reported, damage to the surrounding buildings was heavy. A right-wing falangist radio station said the cause of the fighting had been a shooting incident on a nearby road bridge.
Incidents like Sunday's have made Beirut ??? thriving harbour a dangerous, ??? entirely deserted place.
Business still goes on -- though at a much more cautious pace than before. Car and lorry drivers have to drive through a virtual no-man's land to reach the harbour. In July this year, the entire port closed down when harbour workers went on strike after a colleague was killed y a sniper's bullet.
Ships, too, have been discouraged from docking in Beirut. Before the civil war, about three thousand ships a year used to call here. Now the annual figures are just a fraction of that, and this lack of trade has helped turn Beirut harbour from a once-teeming commercial centre into a far quieter version of its former self.