Hundred Days' War

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Hundred Days War
Part of the Lebanese Civil War
Date February 7, 1978 – April 1978
Location East Beirut
Result

Lebanese Front victory

Belligerents

Forces Libanaises Flag.svg Lebanese Front

Lebanesearmyfirstflag.png Army of Free Lebanon
Syria Syrian Army
Marada Brigade
Commanders and leaders
Logo of Kataeb Party.svg Pierre Gemayel
Logo of Kataeb Party.svg Bachir Gemayel
Logo of Kataeb Party.svg William Hawi
Al-Tanzim logo.png Georges Adwan
Etienne Saqr
Dany Chamoun
Lebanesearmyfirstflag.png Saad Haddad
Lebanesearmyfirstflag.png Antoine Barakat
Syria Hafez al-Assad
Syria Mustafa Tlass
Tony Frangieh
Casualties and losses
160 dead and 400 injured

The Hundred Days War (Arabic: حرب المئة يوم | Harb Al-Mia'at Yaoum), also known as 'La Guerre des Cent Jours' in French was a subconflict within the 1977–82 phase of the Lebanese Civil War which occurred at the Lebanese Capital Beirut. It was fought between the allied Christian Lebanese Front militias, under the command of the Kataeb Party's President Bachir Gemayel, and the Syrian troops of the Arab Deterrent Force (ADF).

Background[edit]

In January 1976, the Phalange joined the main Christian parties – National Liberal Party (NLP), Lebanese Renewal Party (LRP), Marada Brigade, Al-Tanzim, and others – in a loose coalition, the Lebanese Front, designed to act as a political counterweight to the predominantely Muslim Lebanese National Movement (LNM) - Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) alliance. In order to deal with the Syrian military intervention of June 1976 and better coordinate the military operations of their respective militias, Christian militia leaders agreed to form in August that year a joint military command (a.k.a. the "Command Council") whose new collective name was the "Lebanese Forces" (LF).[1][2][3][4] From the very beginning, it became clear that the Lebanese Front's Command Council was dominated by the Phalange and its KRF militia under the charismatic leadership of Bachir Gemayel, who sought to unify the various Christian militias. From 1977 onwards, Bachir began implementing the controversial "unification of the rifle" policy, using the LF to build a new power base for himself, distinct from that of the Phalange or any of the other traditional rightist parties.[5] However, Bachir's actions soon put him on a direct collision course with Syria. Relations between the LF command and Damascus had already become frosty as a consequence of the ADF's growing unwillingness to either suppress the LNM-PLO alliance militias in west Beirut altogether or allow the Christian militias to do so.

The hundred days' war[edit]

February 1978[edit]

After a series of bomb attacks that rocked Beirut on early February 1978, the ADF stepped up its security measures by increasing the number of patrols and checkpoints in the streets. On the 7th, Lebanese soldiers belonging to the Army of Free Lebanon (AFL) – a breakaway faction of the Lebanese Army led by the rightist dissident Colonel Antoine Barakat – objected to the ADF establishing a checkpoint near their HQ at the main Fayadieh barracks, a forteress-like military facility located in the namesake Christian district. The ADF detachment, which comprised twenty Syrian regular soldiers, refused to move out, causing an argument which ended with a shootout on which 19 people lost their lives. The Syrian soldiers were taken prisoner by the AFL regulars and held hostage at Fayadieh barracks, and the situation grew tenser that dawn when the bodies of two slain Christians were found nearby.

The next day, Syrian ADF infantry units backed by artillery surrounded and bombarded the AFL fortified barracks, setting part of the complex on fire.

Kataeb Regulatory Forces 'Commando' troops under the command of Bachir Gemayel and the Tigers Militia led by Dany Chamoun were drawn into the action against the Syrians. That afternoon the Syrian Army shelled Achrafieh and attacked the Tigers' HQ, located at the Sodeco quarter in Achrafieh. The fighting soon spread to east of Beirut and Mount Lebanon. The Syrians took some high-rise buildings such as the Burj Rizk in Achrafieh and the Burj El-Murr using snipers and heavy weapons against civilians. The soldiers stayed for 90 days.

Another major clash took place near the Sodeco area in Achrafieh where the Christian militias fought ferociously and drove the Syrians out of the Rizk Building.[6]

March 1978[edit]

April 1978[edit]

In April, rightist leaders accused the ADF of bias when it intervened to contain the clashes across the Green Line between the Christian-held Ain al-Rammaneh and Muslim-held Chyah districts of Beirut.

Consequences[edit]

However, the LF attack on the pro-Syrian Marada Brigade militia of the Frangieh Clan that summer, which culminated in the infamous Ehden massacre, provoked another round of fighting in June–July. President Elias Sarkis threatened to resign in protest over the Syrian bombardment of East Beirut, but later withdrew his resignation when the shelling stopped. More fighting erupted in the fall, again followed by a ceasefire. In October 1978, the Foreign Ministers of Lebanon and those Arab League states contributing to the ADF – Syria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Sudan, Qatar and the UAE – met at the town of Beiteddine, in the Chouf District south-east of Beirut. The outcome of the meeting was essentially a reaffirmation of the role of the ADF and a strong condemnation of those dealing with Israel.[7] This meeting, and subsequent discussions between Syria and Saudi Arabia led to the lifting of the siege of Achrafieh by the Syrians and the withdrawal of all Syrian troops from East Beirut, being replaced by Saudi and Sudanese ADF troops, whom the Lebanese Front leaders viewed as more impartial and less hostile towards the Christians than the Syrian forces. The settlement was welcomed by the Lebanese Front parties and marked the end of the clashes.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Randal, Going All the Way (2012), pp. 109-155.
  2. ^ Middle East Report (MER), 31 January 1981, pp. 9-11.
  3. ^ Middle East Report (MER), 20 June 1981, pp. 13-17.
  4. ^ Lewis W. Snider, "The Lebanese Forces: Wartime Origins and Political Significance," Middle East Journal 38, 4 (Winter 1984).
  5. ^ Rabinovich, The war for Lebanon (1989), p. 71.
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ Text of the Beit ed-Dine declaration in Middle East Report (MER), October 21, 1978, pp. 17-18.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Edgar O'Ballance, Civil War in Lebanon, 1975-92, Palgrave Macmillan, London 1998. ISBN 0-333-72975-7
  • Itamar Rabinovich, The war for Lebanon, 1970-1985, Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London 1989 (revised edition). ISBN 978-0-8014-9313-3, 0-8014-9313-7
  • Jonathan Randall, Going All the Way: Christian Warlords, Israeli Adventurers and the War in Lebanon, Just World Books 2012. ISBN 978-1935982166
  • Moustafa El-Assad, Civil Wars Volume 1: The Gun Trucks, Blue Steel books, Sidon 2008. ISBN 9953-0-1256-8
  • Rex Brynen, Sanctuary and Survival: the PLO in Lebanon, Boulder: Westview Press, 1990.
  • Paul Jureidini, R. D. McLaurin, and James Price, Military operations in selected Lebanese built-up areas, 1975-1978, Aberdeen, MD: U.S. Army Human Engineering Laboratory, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Technical Memorandum 11-79, June 1979.
  • Samer Kassis, 30 Years of Military Vehicles in Lebanon, Beirut: Elite Group, 2003. ISBN 9953-0-0705-5
  • Samer Kassis, Véhicules Militaires au Liban/Military Vehicles in Lebanon 1975-1981, Trebia Publishing, Chyah 2012. ISBN 978-9953-0-2372-4

External links[edit]