The streets of the war-town capital of Lebanon, Beirut, resembled the aftermath of a disaster on Tuesday (16 December ) as another ceasefire took effect.
The streets of the war-town capital of Lebanon, Beirut, resembled the aftermath of a disaster on Tuesday (16 December ) as another ceasefire took effect. The local population kept clear of the rubble-strewn, burnt out streets in spite of the truce between rival political factions.
The entire country had been the scene for fierce battles between gunmen from left-wing Moslem groups and right-wing Christian organisations for the past eight months.
During the past few days the gunmen have fought to the death for control of the tourist luxury hotels on the Beirut seafront.
The rival militias used heavy artillery, flamethrowers and mortars to gain control of the multi-storied hotel blocks which command a devastating field of vision over the rest of the city.
Whoever had possession of the hotel block rained mortar and gunfire down on enemy positions while their rivals attempted to blast the gunmen from their high vantage points using heavy artillery and machine gun fire.
Now the party destroyed, fire blackened and looted buildings stand as mute monuments to the violence that has wrecked the city.
The latest ceasefire, the 16th in three months, appears as shaky as the previous "'truces" declared between the warring parties and the local population has not yet decided to venture into the city streets.
SYNOPSIS: Beirut, the battle scarred capital of war-torn lebanon. The country's sixteenth ceasefire in three months was declared on Tuesday and the city is experiencing comparative peace.
For the past several days gunmen from the rival left-wing Moslem groups and right-wing Christian organisations used the city as a full-scale battle field as they fought for control of Beirut. The heaviest fighting took place around the group of luxury tourist hotels on the city's beachfront.
The multi-storied hotels offer a devastating field of vision over most of the city and those who control the buildings can rain down rocket and mortar fire on enemy positions. Meanwhile their rivals used heavy artillery and machine gun fire to dislodge the gunmen from their high vantage points.
Now the former luxury hotels are nothing more than burnt out, bullet riddled shells. Most of their fittings, as well as food and drink supplies, having been looted by the various rival fulmen. The ironically named Holiday Inn was one of the worst hit.
Despite the comparative peace that has settled over the city the local population has seen too many ceasefires erupt into blazing battles and is keeping well clear of the central city area. It will be months before beirut returns to any sense of commercial normality ... that is if the ceasefire holds. Businessmen in the city say it is inevitable that economic hardship will follow such prologued violence.