A truce between Syrian troops and Christian Militia forces came into effect in the eastern Lebanese town of Zahle on Monday afternoon (22 December) after some of the heaviest fighting in Lebanon in two years.
GV Phalangist troops advance down street and take cover (2 shots)
GV Troops assembled
GV Troops on balcony advance into building
SV PAN Officer addressing troops
GV Explosion in building
SV Troops entering building
GV Field gun firing
GV Troops firing machine gun from trenches
LV Troops running for cover under artillery fire
GV Troops on vantage point behind sand bags
GV Machine gun being fired
GV Injured soldier carried off on stretcher
LV Troops taking cover on vantage point (2 shots)
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Background: A truce between Syrian troops and Christian Militia forces came into effect in the eastern Lebanese town of Zahle on Monday afternoon (22 December) after some of the heaviest fighting in Lebanon in two years. The fighting has promoted the Phalangist Militia forces to step up their training programme.
SYNOPSIS: The Phalangist forces are backed by Israel, and with its help, the right-wing forces have managed to attain a high degree of proficiency in the handling of light and medium weapons. Persistent fighting over the weekend (20/21 December) has made the Phalangists' training programme a poignant exercise.
The clashes erupted in Zahle on Saturday (20 December). A spokesman for the Phalangists said several thousand Syrian troops had surrounded the Christian town in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley and were using heavy artillery and mortars to pound positions there. He said the militiamen were fighting back with light weapons.
The incident followed the killing of five Syrian soldiers and the wounding of two others in Zahle on Friday (19 December). According to unconfirmed reports, the Syrians opened up with artillery fire after the deadline set for the handing over of those responsible for the killing had expired. Syrian helicopters dropped commandos in several districts after the militia had overrun two positions in Zahle. Local newspaper said more than 150 mortars had landed in the town of some 150,000 inhabitants during a six hour bombardment of Sunday (21 December).
About 30,000 Syrian troops, constituted as an Arab Deterrent Force (ADF), have been in Lebanon since they intervened to end the 1975-76 civil war. The powerful Phalangists welcomed them at first as allies in their struggle against Palestinian guerrillas and Lebanese leftists, but they now consider them as an army of occupation.