News from Beirut August 22  1997 ...Search

South Lebanon

-President Elias Hrawi left today to Latakia in Syria to meet his Syrian counterpart and discuss the latest developments and bilateral relations.

-The five nations ceasefire monitoring committee meeting at Naqoura is going on with number of complaints filed by Lebanon and Israel. Two more complaints by each Lebanon and Israel were filed while the committee is examining the original six complaints present at the table on Wednesday. The atmosphere at the Naqoura meeting was fiery with Lebanon persisting on a clear condemnation to Israel and the latter trying to release itself of the responsibility of the attacks against Lebanese civilians.

-Diplomatic efforts that were exerted during the past days aimed to bring the situation under control and framework of the monitoring panel has not been translated in practical terms. The US and France's contacts with the Lebanon, Syria and Israel did not yet succeed to halt military escalation but perhaps it was trying to avert a large scale war or blitz. Israel is now enforcing series of shuttling attacks against Lebanon that leaves it under the impacts of a war without a real war. Israel wants to pressure Lebanon to go into a partial negotiation away from the Madrid based comprehensive solution. The Israeli officials are giving conflicting views and declarations on what should be done. One official excludes a large scale operation while another one calls for striking Lebanon's infrastructures.

-Lebanese officials held series of meetings to review the situation. President Elias Hrawi received the army commander and discussed the military preparations. Hrawi reiterated that the unity of the Lebanese people against Israel can stand for the Israeli aggressions. .

-US ambassador Richard Jones after a visit to the house speaker said he excludes an all over escalation same as in April last year and hoped the monitoring panel restore calm. Jones said he is not in a position to give assurances that Israel will not attack vital sectors in the country, same as the one against the electricity station at Jieh. Jones said he does not see a total escalation and things are in the framework of action and reaction.

-In Jezzine, a roadside blast exploded at Dahr Ramleh killing a Lebanese civilian truck driver from the near village of Bater in Chuf. The driver Kamal abu Mahdi was heading to the place to load his truck with construction sand. The explosion took place at a road used by all the inhabitants. Hizbullah accused Israel of planting the blast saying it is another suspicious blast that aimed to stirr troubles between the Lebanese. Spokesman of the Israeli army accused Hizbullah of planting the blast saying it is another violation of the April's understanding. SLA commander Antoine Lahd said he blames the Lebanese government, because he does not acknowledge Hizbullah, since the Lebanese state is in control of the area and is responsible of the civilians. In the evening, the Islamic resistance clashed with an Israeli patrol near the SLA post of Blat, 2 kms far from the international border with Israel. The Israeli forces brought in helicopters to comb the area and fired tens of artillery shells at three villages close to the security zone lines. The Islamic resistance said it fired SAM 7 missile against the helicopters to prevent it airlift the Israeli casualties. Hizbullah said at least 7 Israeli soldiers were wounded or killed.

-The Syrian media denounced the Israeli aggression which aimed to push Mrs. Albright to focus , during her coming visit to the region, on security not on the M.E. peace process. Syrian defense minister Mustafa Tlass during an inspection visit to Syrian units in Lebanon called on the Syrian armed forces to be ready to repel aggressions. He said deterioration of the situation aim to change stands of the Lebanese government and the resistance.

-SLA commander Antoine Lahd, in a press interview, said his forces "opened fire against Sidon because we see we should retaliate this way". He argued "what the Israelis were expecting me to do, to stand idle while our children are killed". He regretted that the shelling of Sidon led to the rocketing of north Israel, but "this time we could not control ourselves, because the two young people killed in Hizbullah's blast were not merely two Lebanese children. They were sons of our command officer who was killed four years ago in Lebanon". Lahd said he anticipates calm for several days but the fighting will not stop.


-President Elias Hrawi visit to Brazil early September would be postponed in case the situation in the region and Lebanon deteriorates, news analyst said. In case the situation deteriorates further, Mrs. Albright would expand her scheduled tour, to include other than Israel and the Palestinian self rule, Syria, Egypt and perhaps Lebanon, another analyst said.

-Qatar's ambassador in Lebanon, after extending invitation to Lebanon to attend the Islamic summit conference in 2000 in Qatar, said Doha-Qatar's economical conference is still on time unless the situation worsen more because of the Israeli aggressions.

-MP Zaher Khatib said the Israeli aggression aimed to impose the Lebanon's First proposal, consequently halt the resistance operations and separate Syrian and Lebanese peace tracks.

-LBCI interview with former president Amin Gemayel which was scheduled to be aired Wednesday has been banned. The interview was recorded Monday in Paris.

-Lebanese diplomatic sources and general security denied the information saying Lebanon's embassy in Tehran halted issue of visas to visit Lebanon to Iranian nationals. The diplomatic sources said visas facilities are granted to VIPs and senior businessmen but ordinary people should obtain prior approval from the general security in Beirut before the embassy issues the visa.

-Visitors of Patriarch Sfair quoted him saying he is worried of the fate of Jezzine where exodus and evacuation are taking place on stages. The patriarch quoted saying he is aware of the scheme to empty the Jezzine area of any Christian presence at a time the Christian displaced did not return yet to the mountain.

-Mar Roukoz meeting for Jezzine called the Lebanese government to work to stop the gradual exodus from the area. The Jezzine Grouping denied it is working for Jezzine First and said what the grouping is working for is to support the steadfastness of the people, not to help the Israeli occupation to resolve its problem.

-Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah said the people of Jezzine has foiled Israeli schemes and that the blood in Jezzine and Sidon has united the cause.


-Iraq football team defeated Lebanon 2-0 in a friendly match at Beirut municipal stadium Wednesday. 12,000 people attended the match.

-Egyptian football player Ashraf Kassem of Zamalek signed a one year $30000.00 contract to play for the Lebanese team Nijmeh.

-The Lebanese Kahraba basketball team is organizing a basketball tournament in the name of its founder Victor Haddad. Ten Lebanese and foreign teams will participate in the tournament that starts early Sept.

-The Lebanese Football federation is to announce today name of best player in Viceroy Cup/97. 11 players are competing to win the title and a considerable financial award. Among the players on the list Ali Faqih-Ansar, Vatcheh-Homentmen, Hisham Ibrahim-Nijmeh, Ahmad Saksouk-Ansar, Midhat ramadan-Ikhaa Aley, Malek Hassoun-Ansar, Haidfar Hayek-Nijmeh, Mohammed Mislmani-Ansar, Korkin-Homenmen, Kivork-Ansar, Wael Nazzha-Nijmeh.

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