Syrian peace-keeping troops were maintaining their grip on Beirut on Tuesday (5 February) as Lebanese leaders discussed the possibility of an imminent Syrian withdrawal from the capital.
GV Street outside President Assad's office
GV President Assad and Dr. Hoss seated ZOOM INTO SCU Hoss PAN TO Assad GV leaders seated together
SV Hoss PAN TO Assad - GV leaders speaking
GV Street outside Presidential building
GV ZOOM IN TO SV Mr. Suleiman Franjieh talking to President Assad (2 shots)
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Background: Syrian peace-keeping troops were maintaining their grip on Beirut on Tuesday (5 February) as Lebanese leaders discussed the possibility of an imminent Syrian withdrawal from the capital. Lebanese President Elias Sarkis met the commander of the Syrian deterrent force, Brigadier Same Khatib to obtain details of the proposed pull-out while Prime Minister Selim Al-Hoss had talks with security officials. Dr. Elim Hoss had gone the previous day on a lightning visit to Syria for urgent talks.
SYNOPSIS: Dr. Hoss spoke in Damascus at President Hafez al-Assad's office.
Reuters news agency reported that the Lebanese leader secured a few days' postponement of the withdrawal. Officials in Beirut fear a sudden pull-out of Syrian forces could lead to new clashes between rival militia groups which fought in the civil war of 1975-76.
Dr. Hoss was reported to have asked President Assad to delay redeployment of Syrian forces until the Lebanese Army could take over. The Lebanese forces disintegrated during the civil war, but have since been re-organised. Dr. Hoss's visit followed the Syrian government's announcement that its twenty-four thousand troops -- in what was once an Arab League peace-keeping force -- would be pulled out within thirty-six hours.
Included in the talks was Mr. Suleiman Franjieh, the chief representative of the Lebanese Christians, and, for six years until 1976, the president of Lebanon. Reports on Tuesday (5 February) said Syrian troops were holding their positions, in key sectors of Beirut, and showing no signs of preparing to withdraw.