Saudi Arabian troops have taken over strategic position from Syrian soldiers in Christian areas of the battle-torn capital of the Lebanon, Beirut, as part of the security plan to prevent renewed fighting.
Saudi Arabian troops have taken over strategic position from Syrian soldiers in Christian areas of the battle-torn capital of the Lebanon, Beirut, as part of the security plan to prevent renewed fighting. The handover began at dawn on Friday (20 October), a day later than planned, due to last minute hitches.
SYNOPSIS: Reports from Beirut suggest that, while Syrian troops have been handing over their positions to the Saudi troops, they have been retreating only a few hundred yards from the Christian areas in the eastern part of the city, scenes of the recent heavy fighting.
The withdrawal is part of a security plan to prevent renewed fighting between right-wing Christian militiamen and the Syrian-dominated Arab Deterrent Force (ADF). The Syrian troops have withdrawn from two bridges which carry the main access routes from the north and east.
The Syrians and being replaced by these Saudi troops and Lebanese paramilitary police. The redeployment plan was approved by a conference of Arab foreign ministers earlier this week in an attempt to give President Elias Sarkis another chance to resolve the continuing crisis. The Saudis have only 1,2000 men in the Lebanon and observers have expressed doubts at their ability to consolidate the fragile ceasefire.
After the handover began, there was one shelling incident, but no other reported trouble. Later a Phalangist leader, Bashir Gemayel expressed confidence in the Saudi presence.