In Beirut recent clashes between Syrian troops of the Arab Defence Force (ADF) and Christian right-wing militia have raised fears of another serious outbreak of fighting in the Lebanese capital.
In Beirut recent clashes between Syrian troops of the Arab Defence Force (ADF) and Christian right-wing militia have raised fears of another serious outbreak of fighting in the Lebanese capital. Militant Christians held a rally on Wednesday (21 March) to commemorate those killed in fighting during the past year.
SYNOPSIS: The Ain Rummaneh district of East Beirut was deserted as armed Rightist patrols toured the streets. In recent weeks, there have been repeated violations of the ceasefire which ended a two-week battle in the capital last October, and civilian kidnappings have resumed. The people carrying flags and banners at the Martyrs' Day rally support Christian leaders who oppose the extension of the Arab Defence Force's six-month mandate, which expires in April. Christian militiamen are reportedly determined to keep the Syrians out of East Beirut.
Rightist leaders at the rally included National Liberal party leader, Dany Chamoun, whose father Camille is President of the Christian Rightist coalition. Marching beside him was the son of the Falagist party leader, Bashir Gemayel, who leads the rightist militia's. Mr. Gemayel almost became a victim of the renewed violence on Tuesday (20 March), when a car bomb was found near his headquarters.
Women and children joined the procession which also marked Mother's Day.
Many of them carried posters in French and English calling for greater liberty in Lebanon. Rightists feel that the Moslem revolution in Iran presents an additional threat to Middle East minorities like the Lebanese Christians. The Egypt-Israel peace treaty will focus more attention on Lebanon and increase tension. They remembered past victims of the conflict, and some thoughts turned to what the future holds for Lebanon.