The Syrian capital of Damascus has been the scene of rallying calls regarding two areas of Middle East unrest.
The Syrian capital of Damascus has been the scene of rallying calls regarding two areas of Middle East unrest. A group of Lebanese citizens travelled to Syria on Sunday (12 February) to demonstrate their support for Syrian peace-keeping efforts in the Lebanon. At the same time, the Palestine Central Council was meeting in Damascus and on Monday (13 February) it reaffirmed the determination of Palestinian leaders to continue their opposition to Egypt's Middle East peace policy.
SYNOPSIS: The Council meeting was attended by more than fifty delegates, including Mr. Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation. Resolutions adopted by anti-Egyptian summits held in Tripoli and Algiers recently-to face what were termed 'imperialist and Zionist conspiracies'-were unanimously endorsed by the Council which reiterated firm opposition to President Sadat's policy. Delegates confirmed that the armed struggle against Israel would be maintained. They spoke of the need to strengthen unity amongst commando groups and to develop coordination between Arab governments and socialist states such as the Soviet Union. The Council also discussed what it termed Israeli conspiracies to re-inflame sedition in the Lebanon. Delegates pledged PLO keenness to safeguard the Lebanon's sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity.
While these discussions were going on, a large crowd of Lebanese citizens gathered in front of the Presidential Palace in Damascus to cheer President Hafez al-Assad of Syria and to chant their appreciation of Syrian efforts to normalise the situation in the Lebanon. The rally coincided with talks between Syria and Lebanese leaders in Beirut, trying to solve problems underlying fighting which flared last week. The skirmishes began between Lebanese Army regulars and Syrian peace troops at a Lebanese barracks. Fighting later spread to Beirut itself, involving rightist militiamen, and cost more than 150 lives.