Military units attempting to force Lebanon's President Suleiman Franjieh from office held back on Wednesday (17 March) as the emphasis shifted to political efforts in Syria to resolve the Lebanese crisis.
GV Damascus street scene
SV people reading newspapers in street (3 shots)
SV News stand ZOOM IN TO CU headlines
SV People in streets (2 shots)
SV President Assad past guard of honour to Mosque (2 shots)
SV Mosque PAN DOWN TO people in street.
SV INTERIOR President Assad and worshippers at prayer (2 shots)
GV INTERIOR Mourabitoun Headquarters with Khatib entering
SV Aides and followers listening to Khatib talking.
CU Koleilat listening.
SV Khatib speaking.
Initials RH/0245 RH/AMN/JB/0310
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Military units attempting to force Lebanon's President Suleiman Franjieh from office held back on Wednesday (17 March) as the emphasis shifted to political efforts in Syria to resolve the Lebanese crisis.
A stream of top Lebanese and Palestinian figures have been conferring in Damascus with Syrian leaders, who are anxious to restore stability there for fear that Israel might take advantage of the present confusion.
Among those who made the journey to the Syrian capital was Lieutenant Ahmed Al-Khatib, leader of the dissident troops of the "Lebanese Arab Army". Armoured columns of the mutinous troops are waiting along the main roads into Beirut from the east and south, poised to strike against the President.
The Lieutenant told a news conference on Tuesday (16 March) that they only halted to give politicians a chance to resolve the crisis peacefully. On the same day he met Ibrahim Koleilat, head of independent Nasserites. Lieutenant Khatib said his troops wee cooperating with the leader of last Thursday's (11 March) attempted coup against Mr. Franjieh, General Aziz Al-Ahdab, in order to topple the President.
Meanwhile, Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad has urged dissident leaders to exercise self-restraint and thus facilitate political efforts for a solution. The President has postponed a visit to France because of the situation.
The President, whose visit would have been the first by a Syrian president to a western country, was reported to be keeping a round-the-clock watch on Lebanese events. But there was no indication whether Syria would resume its mediation in the country which helped bring about the ceasefire on 22 January.
SYNOPSIS: Damascus, the Syrian capital, where concern about the crisis in neighbouring Lebanon is intensifying. But so far there is no indication whether Syria will formally resume its mediation in the country. Syrian officials have declined to comment except to say it is a purely internal Lebanese affair. Syrian mediation helped to bring about the January ceasefire in the Lebanese civil war.
But Syrian President Al-Assad - seen here at the weekend visiting the Omayyad Mosque of Prophet Day - is reported to be keeping a round-the-clock watch on Lebanese events. He postponed a state visit to France this week because of growing concern over the situation. Instead, he has been receiving in Damascus leaders of Lebanon's many dissident factions. He has urged them to show restraint and is believed to be against the forcible removal of Lebanese President Suleiman Franjieh who was still holding onto his office on Wednesday.
One of the leaders who visited Damascus was leader of the mutinous Lebanese Arab Army, Lieutenant Ahmed Al-Khatib. Here he is visiting the Mourabitoun Headquarters in Beirut where he spore to some of his dissident troops. At the moment armoured columns of his troops are waiting along the main roads into Beirut from the east and south, poised to strike against the President. In the Lebanese capital Lieutenant Khatib met Ibrahim Koleilat, head of the independent Nasserites. He said the troops has only halted to give politicians a chance to resolve the crisis peacefully.