Mountain War (Lebanon)

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Mountain War
حرب الجبل
Part of the Lebanese Civil War
Date September 3, 1983 – February 1984
Location Chouf District
Aley District
Baabda District
West Beirut

Lebanon LNRF

Flag of Druze.svg Druze Yezbaki clan
Islamic Jihad Organization Supported by:
Palestine Liberation Organization PLO

 Syria Syrian Army

Lebanon Lebanese Armed Forces
Supported by:
Multinational Force in Lebanon

Commanders and leaders
Walid Jumblatt
George Hawi
Elias Atallah
Ibrahim Kulaylat
Flag of Druze.svg Emir Majid Arslan
Syria Hafez al-Assad
Syria Ghazi Kanaan
Palestine Liberation Organization Bassam Abu Sharif
Nabih Berri
Imad Mughniyah
Lebanon Ibrahim Tannous
Lebanon Michel Aoun
Fouad Abou Nader
Fadi Frem
Samir Geagea
United States Ronald Reagan
France François Mitterrand
Casualties and losses
1,600 dead and 2,000 injured

The Mountain War (Arabic: حرب الجبل‎‎ | Harb al-Jabal), also known as the War of the Mountain and Guerre de la Montagne in French, was a subconflict between the 1982–83 phase of the Lebanese Civil War and the 1984–89 phase of the Lebanese Civil War, which occurred at the mountainous Chouf District located south-east of the Lebanese Capital Beirut. It pitted the Christian Lebanese Forces militia (LF) and the official Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) against a coalition of anti-government Druze militias led by the Druze Progressive Socialist Party (PSP), backed by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Syria. Hostilities began when the LF and the LAF entered the predominantly Druze Chouf district to bring back the region under government control, only to be met with fierce resistance from local Druze militias and their allies. PSP leader Walid Jumblatt's persistence to join the central government and his instigation of a wider opposition faction led to disintegration of the already fragile LAF and the eventual collapse of the Maronite-led government under President Amin Gemayel.


In the wake of the June 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the main Maronite Christian ally of Israel, the Lebanese Forces (LF) militia of the Kataeb Party commanded by Bashir Gemayel sought to expand its area of influence in Lebanon. The LF tried to take advantage of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) advances to begin deploying troops in areas where they had not been present before. This territorial expansion policy was focused on regions known to harbor a large Christian rural population, such as the mountainous Chouf District, located south-east of Beirut. Following the assassination of their leader – and President-elected of Lebanon – Bashir Gemayel in September 1982, the LF command council decided late that month to enter the Chouf. The head of LF intelligence, Elie Hobeika, voiced his opposition to the entry, but was overruled by his fellow senior commanders of the council. With the tacit backing of the IDF, Lebanese Forces’ units under the command of Samir Geagea (appointed Commander of all LF forces in the Chouf-Aley sector of Mount Lebanon in January 1983) moved into the Christian-populated areas of the western Chouf. By early 1983, the Lebanese Forces’ managed to establish garrisons at a number of key towns in the Chouf, namely Aley, Deir el-Qamar, Souk El Gharb, Kfar Matta, Bhamdoun, and Kabr Chmoun among others.[1] However, this brought them into confrontation with the local Druze community, who viewed the LF as intruders on their territory.

The Maronites and the Druze were long-standing enemies since the 1860s – when a bloody civil war tore apart the Mount Lebanon Emirate, on which thousands of Christians were massacred by the Druzes – and old enmities were rearoused when Geagea’s Maronite troops tried to pay old historic debts by imposing their authority on the Chouf by force. Some 145 Druze civilians were reportedly killed by the Lebanese Forces at Kfar Matta[2] and sporadic fighting soon broke out between the LF and the main Druze militia, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP).

Re-organization of the LAF[edit]

The new Lebanese President Amin Gemayel – brother of the late Bashir, elected as his successor in September 21 – requested that a U.S., French and Italian (soon joined by a small British contingent) peacekeeping Multinational Force (MNF) be deployed in and around the Beirut area to maintain order, although the political objectives of this deployment were unclear.[3] He also proceeded to re-organize and re-equip the depleted Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) with the help of Jordan, the United States and France, whose MNF contingents (U.S. Marines and French Foreign Legion Paratroopers) began training Lebanese soldiers, followed by the end of the year of the arrival of arms shipments. This stance however, eroded the neutrality of the MNF at the eyes of the Lebanese Muslims, since they did not perceive the LAF as a true national defense force that would protect the interests of all factions. Indeed, the LAF was almost wholly controlled by the Christians.[4] In early October 1982, after regaining control of West Beirut, Gen. Ibrahim Tannous, Commander-in-Chief of the Lebanese Armed Forces turned his attention to the Chouf District and on October 18, his troops began to reassert their presence in the region. However, they were unable to stop the ongoing Christian-Druze clashes, mostly due to Israeli presence in the area, which tended to restrict Lebanese government’ forces activity.[5]

In November, fighting in the Chouf spread into the south-western suburbs of Beirut and friction in the Lebanese Capital increased after December 1, when the Druze PSP leader Walid Jumblatt was injured in an assassination attempt by a car-bomb explosion.[6] On December 20 fighting broke out again between the Christian LF and the Druze PSP/PLA militias at the town of Aley which rumbled on until February 7, 1983, when the Druze overrun the town and drove out the Christian garrison.[7]

On April 18 a suicide bomber drove a delivery van packed with explosives into the lobby of the U.S. Embassy at West Beirut, killing 63 people – among the dead were Robert Ames, a senior Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analyst, and six personnel from the CIA station in Lebanon. Responsibility was claimed by the previously unknown Islamic Jihad Organization (IJO), a Lebanese Shiite terrorist group supported by Iran and based near Baalbek in the Syrian-controlled Beqaa valley. This attack inaugurated the saga of suicide car- and truck-bombings in Lebanon.[8][9]

May 17 Agreement[edit]

After six months of prolonged U.S.-mediated secret negotiations, representatives of the Lebanese, Israeli, and American governments signed a withdrawal agreement on May 17, 1983, which became known as the ‘May 17 Agreement’, that provided for the evacuation of all foreign armed forces from Lebanon. However, implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement depended entirely upon the cooperation of Syria who, incensed for being neither invited to the negotiations nor consulted prior to the signature of the agreement, rejected it by refusing to withdraw its 30,000 troops stationed in Lebanon. Many Lebanese, both Christian and Muslim, were not in favor of a U.S.-sponsored agreement either, which included severe security terms imposed by the Israelis and practically treated Lebanon as a defeated country. Although the agreement was approved by the Lebanese Parliament, President Amin Gemayel refused to ratify it, a decision that irritated the Israeli Prime-Minister Menahem Begin.[10] Lebanese Muslims also felt both threatened and marginalized when their President, confident of U.S. political and military support, avoided implementing the much-needed political reforms to which the Muslim Political Parties and militias felt entitled.[11]

Increasing tensions[edit]

As a result, internal political and armed opposition to the weak Gemayel administration grew intensively throughout the country. On May 22, a number of clashes occurred in the Chouf Mountains, as the Druze PSP/PLA militia moved to expel the Lebanese Forces from their remaining positions in the area. Despite the heavy presence of IDF units in the region, the Israelis had little interest at getting involved in Lebanese inter-sectarian strife, and made no attempt to intervene in the behalf of their LF allies.

During the summer of 1983 the situation in Lebanon degenerated into a vicious power struggle between Lebanese rival factions, with the MNF caught in the middle. Both the Israelis and Syrians withdrew to more defensive positions and tried to outmaneuver each other by playing their local proxies, with mixed results. Seemingly oblivious to the deteriorating political and military situation, the U.S. government did nothing to demonstrate its neutrality. In June, rather than cancelling or descaling the training and arming of the LAF ground forces, the U.S. Marines began joint patrols with them,[12] whilst the French, Italian and British contingents of the Multinational Force refused to do so, fearing that such a partisan move would compromise the neutrality of the MNF.

At the same time, the Lebanese central government was planning to re-impose its authority over the Chouf District, and on July 9–10, LAF troops occupied an observation post recently abandoned by the IDF, located on the hills to the east of Beirut. President Gemayel and General Tannous wanted to step up full deployment of combat units of the reformed Lebanese Armed Forces to the area, to act as a buffer between the LF and the PSP. This was objected by the Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, who accused the LAF of primarily serving the Kataeb interests, and began to re-organize and re-arm his PLA militia with Syrian material help. Oddly enough, the Israelis did not reacted to the Druze military build-up in the Chouf.

Clashes with Druzes in the Chouf[edit]

The first engagement between the Druze PSP/PLA and the LAF occurred on July 14, when an Army unit accompanying an IDF patrol was ambushed by Druze guerrillas. Fourteen Lebanese soldiers and two Druze militiamen were killed in the attack, and in response the artillery units of Jumblatt's PLA shelled on 18th, 20th, 22nd and 23rd the Christian-held neighborhoods of East Beirut (in which over 30 people were killed and 600 injured, mostly civilians) and U.S. Marines positions at Beirut International Airport in Khalde, wounding three Marines. The U.S. Marines compound came under further Druze PLA shell-fire on August 28, this time killing two Marines, which led the Marines to retaliate with their own artillery, shelling the Druze positions in the Chouf with 155mm high-explosive rounds. This incident marked the beginning of the shooting war for the U.S. military forces in Lebanon.[13] Although President Gemayel accused Syria of being behind the Druze shelling and threatened to respond accordingly, artillery duels between the LAF and Druze militias continued sporadically until a ceasefire came in effect in late August.

Clashes with Amal in Beirut[edit]

As these events were unfolding in the Chouf, tensions continued to mount at Muslim-populated West Beirut. They finally exploded in mid-August when a general strike called on the 15th quickly escalated into open warfare, which pitted the Shia Amal militia led by Nabih Berri against the Lebanese Armed Forces. Although Amal had managed to seize control of much of West Beirut after two weeks of street-fighting, hostilities resumed in August 28 near MNF positions in the southern edge of Beirut which caused several casualties. Response was not long in coming, and two days later, LAF troops assisted by MNF detachments backed by artillery and USMC Bell AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters, made successful counterattacks and regained control of the Muslim quarters.[14]

The Israelis withdraw from the Chouf[edit]

To further aggrieve matters, the Israelis during that same month withdrew unilaterally from the Chouf to new positions further south along the Awali River, allowing the Lebanese Army to resume control over the area.[15] This unexpected move effectively removed the buffer made by the IDF between the Druze and Christian militias. Some international analysts have argued that the Israelis had deliberately provoked the conflict so that their Christian allies could establish themselves in the area.[16] New recordings of a phone call between the U.S. President Ronald Reagan and the Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin released by the New York Post in November 2014 revealed a request made by Reagan to the Israeli Prime-minister to delay the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Chouf mountains.[17] In any event, the cease-fire in the Chouf barely held for a week, and triggered another round of brutal fighting which caused Walid Jumblatt to declare on September 1 that the Druze community of Lebanon was now formally at war with the Christian-dominated Gemayel government in East Beirut. The ‘Mountain War’ had begun.

The Mountain War[edit]

September 1983[edit]

On September 3, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) commenced the first part of a phased withdrawal plan codenamed Operation Millstone, by quickly pulling out its troops from their positions on the southern edge of Beirut and from a section of the Beirut-Damascus Highway, and within twenty-four hours Israeli units had completed its redeployment south of the Awali River line. The Lebanese Armed Forces rushed south to occupy Khalde and the road adjacent to Beirut International Airport, but ran into difficulties near Aley, where heavy fighting between the Druze and LF militas persisted.[18]

Opposing forces[edit]

At this point, Jumblatt’s 17,000-strong PSP/PLA militia was now part of a military coalition that gathered 300 Druze fighters sent by its Druze rival Majid Arslan and head of the powerful Yazbaki clan, 2,000 Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) militiamen under Inaam Raad, 3,000 Nasserite fighters of the Al-Mourabitoun led by the Sunni Muslim Ibrahim Kulaylat and some 5,000 Popular Guards’ militiamen of the Lebanese Communist Party (LCP) under Elias Atallah. In addition, the Shia Amal militia (not part of the alliance) at West Beirut was able to mobilize 10,000 fighters. Both Amal and the PSP-led coalition received the discreet, yet fundamental backing of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Syrian Army, who provided logistical and artillery support.

The Lebanese Forces militia had about 2,500 lightly equipped Christian militiamen in the Chouf, mostly tied up in static garrison duties throughout the region's main towns whereas another 2,000 fighters were deployed alongside LAF ground units at West Beirut. The Lebanese Army committed five newly formed mechanized infantry brigades – the Fourth Brigade, Fifth Brigade, Sixth Brigade, Seventh Brigade and Eighth Brigade – totaling roughly some 10,000 men, placed under the overall command of Gen. Tannous and the Lebanese Armed Forces Chief-of-Staff, the Druze General Nadim al-Hakim. Deployed in the western Chouf, and at both the western and eastern sectors of Beirut, the army brigades benefited from aerial, artillery, and logistical support lent by U.S. and French forces of the MNF contingent. In this post-Israeli period in the Chouf the Lebanese Forces and the regular army occasionally fought side-by-side, but at other times they were opponents. This lack of coordination between the LF and the government was due to the deep distrust that LF senior commanders felt towards President Amin Gemayel, its political moderate posture and friendly relations with Lebanese Muslim and Palestinian leaders.[19][20]

Druze offensive[edit]

As soon as the last Israeli units left the Chouf, the Druze launched on September 5th a full-scale offensive on Lebanese Forces’ and Lebanese Army positions at Deir el-Qamar, Kabr Chmoun and Bhamdoun. Less than 300 Lebanese Forces fighters were defending Bhamdoun, with orders to hold their positions for 12 hours until Lebanese Army units arrive and take over. However, 72 hours later no reinforcements were in sight, and it became clear that the LF counter-offensive in the coastal town of Kfar Matta aimed at opening the road to Bhamdoun had stalled. Warned at the last minute by the PLO of the eminent Druze offensive, Samir Geagea, the LF supreme commander in the Mountain region issued a general evacuation order of all Christian civilians from the towns and villages of the Aley and Chouf districts towards the symbolic town of Deir el-Qamar, site of the Christian population massacres in 1860.

For their part, the LF garrison forces were completely caught by surprise by the ferocity of the assault and were outnumbered. Supported by obsolescent 25-pounder field guns,[21] TOW Jeeps, Heavy machine guns and recoilless rifles on gun-trucks, and anti-aircraft autocannons mounted on wheeled BTR-152 armored personnel carriers (APCs),[22] plus two armored companies provided with Israeli-supplied Tiran 4 and captured T-54/55 Tanks,[23] they tried desperately to hold their ground at Bhamdoun against a determined enemy now equipped with Soviet-made tanks, tracked and wheeled APCs, long-range artillery, and MBRLs supplied on loan by Syria.

Bhamdoun fell on the 7th, followed two days later by Kabr Chmoun, forcing the Lebanese Forces troops’ to fall back to Deir el-Qamar, which held 40,000 Christian residents and refugees and was defended by 1,000 LF militiamen; the two armored LF tank companies managed to hold their ground at Souk El Gharb and Shahhar, and later spearheaded LF counterattacks at nearby Druze-held towns.[24] The Lebanese Forces command later accused the Druze PSP of both ransacking Bhamdoun and of committing ‘unprecedented massacres’ in the Chouf; in order to deny support, cover or a visible community for the LF to protect, the Druze implemented a ‘territorial cleansing’ policy to drain the Christian population from the region.[25][26] Between 7 and 13 September, Jumblatt’s PLA militia forces overran sixty-two Maronite villages, slaughtered 1,500 people and drove another 50,000 out of their homes in the mountainous areas east and west of Beirut.

When the Lebanese Army was forced to pull back on September 12, in order to strengthen their position around Souk El Gharb, the Druze moved forward to fill the gap. This allowed their artillery point-blank line of sight to the U.S. Marine position at Beirut Airport, overlooked by mountains of strategic value on three sides – designated the ‘three 8’ hills – and on September 15, Druze forces and their allies massed on the threshold of Souk El Gharb.

The Battle of Souk El Gharb[edit]

At Souk El Gharb however, the Lebanese Army was able to relieve the LF garrison units who had repulsed the first wave of Druze PLA ground assaults and were running out of supplies; for the next three days the army's Eighth Brigade led by Colonel Michel Aoun bore the brunt of the attacks, fighting desperately to retain control of the town. The revived Lebanese Air Force (LAF) was also thrown into the fray for the first time since the 1975-77 phase of the Lebanese Civil War, in the form of a squadron of ten refurbished British-made Hawker Hunter fighter jets sent to support the beleguered Lebanese Army units in the Chouf. Since the main air base at Rayak had been bombed by the Syrian Army, the Hunters had to operate from an improvised airfield at Halat, near Jbeil, built by the Americans by using part of the coastal highway. The last combat sortie of the LAF was flown in September 17, when three Lebanese Hunters, backed by a squadron of French Navy’s Super Etendards from the aircraft carrier Clemenceau made an attempt to bomb and strafe Druze PLA and Syrian Army gun emplacements in the Chouf. However, the Druze were awaiting for them with SA-7 Grail anti-aircraft missiles[27] and AA autocannons. One Hunter was shot down by a SA-7 and the pilot barely managed to eject himself into the sea, being rescued by a U.S. Navy vessel. The second Hunter was heavily damaged by ground fire and made a forced landing at Halat. The third did not return to the base but flew straight to the RAF airbase at Akrotiri, Cyprus, where the pilot eventually requested political asylum upon arrival.[28] Two days later, on September 19, a Lebanese Air Force Scottish Aviation Bulldog two-seat training aircraft flying on a reconnaissance mission over the Chouf was hit by ground fire and crashed, killing its two pilots.

United States Navy warships shelled Druze PLA positions and helped the Lebanese Army hold the town until an informal ceasefire was declared on September 25 at Damascus, the day the battleship USS New Jersey arrived at the scene. Although the Lebanese Army had beaten the Druze forces on the battlefield, it was a pyrrhic victory, for it marked the beginning of a confessional split in its ranks. Just prior to the cease-fire, Gen. al-Hakim, LAF Chief-of-Staff and commander of the predominantly Druze Seventh Brigade, fled into PSP-held territory, but he would not admit he had actually defected.[29] After linking up at Khalde with their Shiite Amal allies, the Druze PSP/PLA forces drove the mixed Fourth Brigade 3½ miles south to the vicinity of Damour, in the Iqlim al-Kharrub coastal enclave, as they attempted to create a salient from Aley to the coast at Khalde, south of Beirut. Surrounded and badly mauled, the Brigade disintegrated when approximately 900 Druze enlisted men, plus 60 Officers and NCOs, deserted the Brigade to join their coreligionists of Jumblatt’s PSP or SSNP militias. The remaining 1,000 or so Christian Maronite Officers and men fled south across the Awali River, seeking protection behind Israeli lines while leaving behind some U.S.-made tanks and armored personnel carriers, jeeps, trucks and ammunition.[30] After reaching Sidon, the soldiers were evacuated by sea under the auspices of the Israeli Navy to East Beirut, where they joined other Christian-dominated army elite units.[31]

Geneva Reconciliation Talks[edit]

The September 25th cease-fire temporarily stabilized the situation. The Gemayel government maintained its jurisdiction over West Beirut districts, the Shia Amal movement had not yet fully committed itself in the fighting, and Jumblatt’s PSP/PLA remained landlocked in the Chouf Mountains. The Lebanese government and opposition personalities agreed to meet in Geneva, Switzerland, for a national reconciliation conference under the auspices of Saudi Arabia and Syria, and chaired by President Gemayel to discuss political reform and the May 17 Agreement.

For its part, the United States found itself carrying on Israel's role of shoring up the precarious Lebanese government. An emergency arms shipment had been dispatched earlier on September 14 to beleaguered LAF units fighting in the Chouf, which were backed by air strikes and naval gunfire from the battleship USS New Jersey. On September 29, the U.S. Ambassador’s residence in East Beirut was hit by shell-fire and in response, the U.S. Marines’ contingent stationed at Beirut International Airport was ordered to use its M198 155mm howitzers in support of the Lebanese Army.[32] That same day, the United States Congress, by a solid majority, adopted a resolution declaring the 1973 War Powers Resolution to apply to the situation in Lebanon and sanctioned the U.S. military presence for an eighteen-month period. U.S. vice-president George H. W. Bush made clear the position of the Reagan administration by demanding that Syria “get out from the Lebanon”. A large naval task-force of more than a dozen vessels was assembled off the Lebanese coast and an additional contingent of 2,000 U.S. Marines was sent to the country. The United States Department of Defense (DoD) stated that the increase of its military forces in the eastern Mediterranean had been carried out to “sent a message to Syria”.[33]

October 1983[edit]

American position[edit]

Many international observers believed that these measures implemented by the U.S. government were meant to reshape the power balance in the region in favor of the Amin Gemayel administration, to the detriment of the Syrians and their Lebanese allies.[34] The United States was now perceived in many circles as another foreign power attempting to assert its influence in Lebanese affairs by force, just as Israel and Syria had done.[35]

Alarmed by this American posture (which compromised the neutrality of the Multinational Force) and fearing for the safety of their own MNF contingents in Lebanon, the British, French and Italian governments voiced their concerns, insisting with the Reagan administration to restrict its activities in the region to the protection of Lebanese civilians and to stop supporting what they considered an ongoing assault of the Gemayel government on his own people.[36] However, President Reagan refused to modify his intransigent position and on October 1, another shipment of arms was delivered to the Lebanese Army, including M48A5 main battle tanks (MBTs) and long-range artillery.[37]

The delivery of arms shipments was complemented by naval artillery barrages. Steaming to within two miles of the Lebanese coast, the battleship USS New Jersey, destroyer USS John Rodgers and the nuclear-powered cruiser USS Virginia fired on their 5-inch naval guns some six-hundred 70 lb shells into the wooded hills above Beirut.[38] Unfortunately, the U.S. Navy neglected proper reconnaissance and without sending Forward air controllers to help spot accurately Druze PLA and Syrian Army positions, most of the shells missed their targets and fell in Shia- and Druze-populated sub-urban areas located on the edge of West Beirut and the western Chouf, causing a considerable number of civilian casualties. For many Lebanese Muslims, this was the last straw – any illusion of U.S. neutrality had been dispelled by these recent developments and the MNF soon found itself exposed to hostile fire.

MNF barracks bombing[edit]

Early in the morning of October 23, a suicide truck bomb struck the U.S. Marines' 1/8 Battalion Landing Team (BLT, part of the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit or MAU) building at Beirut international airport killing 245 American servicemen and wounding another 130 marines and U.S. Navy personnel,[39] followed a few minutes later by the mysterious implosion of the French 3rd company, 1er RCP Paratrooper's Barracks at the 'Drakkar' apartment bloc in the Ramlet El-Baida quarter of Bir Hassan, Ouzai district, which claimed the lives of 58 French paratroopers.[40][41] Again, the Shiite Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the bombing of the BLT building at the airport (but not of the 'Drakkar' apartment bloc) and warned of further attacks.[42][43]

The French promptly responded to the bombings with air strikes against Islamic Jihad targets in the Bekaa valley. French Super Etendards from the aircraft carrier Foch retaliated by striking Nebi Chit, thought to house the Islamic Amal (a splinter faction of the Amal movement), and also the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' base at Ras el-Ain near Baalbek, but failed to hit the facilities. They also struck at Syrian Army's and Druze PLA positions in the Chouf region while U.S. warships kept up their artillery barrages against Syrian and Druze gun emplacements overlooking Beirut.[44]

November 1983[edit]

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) frequently carried attacks on hostile targets in the Chouf, losing a fighter jet to ground anti-aircraft fire over Bhamdoun on November 21.[45]

December 1983[edit]

The evacuation of Souk El Gharb and Deir el-Qamar[edit]

In early December, PSP leader Walid Jumblatt, ostensibly as a gesture of goodwill on humanitarian grounds and without any preconditions, offered to lift the sieges of Souk El Gharb and Deir el-Qamar, which had been cut off since September and had to rely on weekly International Red Cross (IRC) relief convoys for food and medical supplies. The Israelis underscored the extent of their responsibility for their Lebanese allies on December 15 when they stepped in to help the IRC in the evacuation of some 2,500 Christian Lebanese Forces (LF) militiamen and 5,000 civilians from Deir el-Qamar and Souk El Gharb. IDF armor and mechanized infantry units provided cover for the exodus towards the Israeli-controlled Awali River line.[46] There were some tense moments as Druze PLA militiamen, waving their rifles, jeered the LF fighters, who had been bundled into Israeli military trucks. The Christian fighters and the civilian refugees were eventually taken by ship by the Israeli Navy from the Israeli-occupied port of Sidon to Christian-controlled areas around Beirut.[47]

In West Beirut, violent clashes erupted on December 24 when Lebanese Army detachments attempted to occupy positions just vacated by the departing French MNF contingent. This time the Druze PLA joined the Amal Movement in the fighting, forcing the battered government forces to withdraw to East Beirut after a five-day street battle.[48]

January 1984[edit]

On January 5, the Lebanese Government announced that a disengagement plan to demilitarize Beirut and its environs, had been approved by Israel, Syria, the Lebanese Forces, and the Shia Amal and Druze PSP/PLA militias. However, implementation of the plan was delayed by continual inter-factional fighting in and around the Lebanese Capital, but also in Tripoli.

As sporadic fighting broke out again on January 16, there were fears that the informal cease-fire that has generally prevailed since late September 1983 was breaking down. Druze artillerymen again shelled Christian-controlled East Beirut and the Marines positions around the International Airport, with Amal and the Lebanese Army joining at the fringes.[49] This in turn provoked a response from the 5-inch naval guns of the battleship USS New Jersey and the destroyer USS Tattnall,[50] firing at Druze gun emplacements in the hills surrounding Beirut.

February 1984[edit]

The fall of West Beirut[edit]

On February 1, Walid Jumblatt denounced the Lebanese Government’s disengagement plan as a waste of time, while Druze PLA troops linked the following day with Nabih Berri's Amal militia units in order to attack Lebanese Army positions within West Beirut, which marked the beginning of the battle for the Lebanese capital.[51] Although forced out of the Shiyah quarter by Amal, the Lebanese Army launched three days later a combined counter-offensive with the Lebanese Forces on the Shia-populated southwestern suburbs of the Lebanese capital. The PSP/PLA-Amal alliance forces promptly reacted that same day by mounting simultaneous ground assaults against Government and LF-held positions in the city center along the Green Line, and on the southern and eastern districts.

Collapse of the LAF[edit]

The decisive defeat of the Lebanese Armed Forces on two key fronts led it once again to disintegrate along sectarian lines, as many demoralized Muslim soldiers began to defect to join the opposition or confined themselves to barracks. Following an open appeal by Nabih Berri, the predominantly Shia Sixth Brigade deserted en bloc to Amal.[52]

March 1984[edit]

On March 5, the Lebanese Government canceled the May 17 agreement; the last U.S. Marines departed a few weeks later. After this the country was split and in turmoil for years to come.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gordon, The Gemayels (1988), pp. 70–71.
  2. ^ O'Ballance, Civil War in Lebanon (1998), pp. 129, 138.
  3. ^ Guest, Lebanon (1994), p. 109.
  4. ^ Guest, Lebanon (1994), pp. 102, 109.
  5. ^ O'Ballance, Civil War in Lebanon (1998), pp. 120–121.
  6. ^ O'Ballance, Civil War in Lebanon (1998), p. 121.
  7. ^ O'Ballance, Civil War in Lebanon (1998), p. 122.
  8. ^ O'Ballance, Civil War in Lebanon (1998), p. 123.
  9. ^ Katz, Russel, and Volstad, Armies in Lebanon (1985), p. 34.
  10. ^ Ménargues, Les Secrets de la guerre du Liban (2004), p. 498.
  11. ^ Guest, Lebanon (1994), p. 109.
  12. ^ Guest, Lebanon (1994), p. 110.
  13. ^ Guest, Lebanon (1994), p. 110.
  14. ^ O'Ballance, Civil War in Lebanon (1998), p. 128.
  15. ^ Katz, Russel, and Volstad, Armies in Lebanon (1985), p. 34.
  16. ^ Gordon, The Gemayels (1988), p. 70.
  17. ^ Never-before-heard tapes of Reagan revealed, New York Post, November 08, 2014.
  18. ^ O'Ballance, Civil War in Lebanon (1998), p. 129.
  19. ^ Gordon, The Gemayels (1988), p. 66.
  20. ^ Menargues, Les Secrets de la guerre du Liban (2004), p. 472.
  21. ^ Gordon, The Gemayels (1988), p. 69.
  22. ^ Olivier Antoine and Raymond Ziffredi, BTR 152 & ZU 23, Steelmasters Magazine, October–November 2006 issue, pp. 48–55.
  23. ^ Kassis, Les TIRAN 4 et 5, de Tsahal aux Milices Chrétiennes, p. 59.
  24. ^ Kassis, Les TIRAN 4 et 5, de Tsahal aux Milices Chrétiennes, p. 60.
  25. ^ Jago Salmon, Massacre and Mutilation: Understanding the Lebanese Forces through their use of violence, Workshop on the ‘techniques of Violence in Civil War’, PRIO, Oslo, August 20–21, 2004, p. 10, footnote 19.
  26. ^ O'Ballance, Civil War in Lebanon (1998), p. 129.
  27. ^ Guest, Lebanon (1994), p. 106.
  28. ^ William E. Smith, Deeper into Lebanon, TIME Magazine, September 26, 1983.
  29. ^ O'Ballance, Civil War in Lebanon (1998), pp. 131–132.
  30. ^ Laurence I. Barrett, Failure of a Flawed Policy, TIME Magazine, February 27, 1984.,9171,921522,00.html
  31. ^ Micheletti and Debay, La 10e Brigade Heliportée, RAIDS magazine (1989), p. 21 (box).
  32. ^ Guest, Lebanon (1994), p. 111.
  33. ^ Gordon, The Gemayels (1988), p. 75.
  34. ^ Gordon, The Gemayels (1988), pp. 75-76.
  35. ^ Katz, Russel, and Volstad, Armies in Lebanon (1985), p. 35.
  36. ^ Gordon, The Gemayels (1988), p. 76.
  37. ^ Guest, Lebanon (1994), p. 111.
  38. ^ Helping to hold the Line, TIME Magazine, October 3, 1983.,9171,926225,00.html#ixzz1DVE9mpVA
  39. ^ Russel and Carroll, The US Marine Corps since 1945 (1984), p. 32.
  40. ^ Guest, Lebanon (1994), p. 111.
  41. ^ O'Ballance, Civil War in Lebanon (1998), p. 132.
  42. ^ Katz, Russel, and Volstad, Armies in Lebanon (1985), p. 35.
  43. ^ Pivetta, Beyrouth 1983, la 3e compagnie du 1er RCP dans l'attentat du Drakkar, Militaria Magazine (2014), pp. 41-44.
  44. ^ O'Ballance, Civil War in Lebanon (1998), p. 133.
  45. ^ O'Ballance, Civil War in Lebanon (1998), p. 134.
  46. ^ O'Ballance, Civil War in Lebanon (1998), p. 134.
  47. ^ William E. Smith, Familiar Fingerprints, TIME Magazine, December 26, 1983, p. 7.
  48. ^ O'Ballance, Civil War in Lebanon (1998), pp. 134–135.
  49. ^ O'Ballance, Civil War in Lebanon (1998), p. 136.
  50. ^ William E. Smith, Murder in the University, TIME Magazine, January 30, 1984, pp. 14–15.
  51. ^ Pivetta, Beyrouth 1983, la 3e compagnie du 1er RCP dans l'attentat du Drakkar, Militaria Magazine (2014), p. 44.
  52. ^ O'Ballance, Civil War in Lebanon (1998), p. 137.


  • Afaf Sabeh McGowan, John Roberts, As’ad Abu Khalil, and Robert Scott Mason, Lebanon: a country study, area handbook series, Headquarters, Department of the Army (DA Pam 550-24), Washington D.C. 1989. - [1]
  • Alain Menargues, Les Secrets de la guerre du Liban: Du coup d'état de Béchir Gémayel aux massacres des camps palestiniens, Albin Michel, Paris 2004. ISBN 978-2226121271 (in French)
  • Edgar O'Ballance, Civil War in Lebanon, 1975-92, Palgrave Macmillan, London 1998. ISBN 0-333-72975-7
  • Éric Micheletti and Yves Debay, Liban – dix jours aux cœur des combats, RAIDS magazine n.º41, October 1989 issue. ISSN 0769-4814 (in French)
  • Ken Guest, Lebanon, in Flashpoint! At the Front Line of Today’s Wars, Arms and Armour Press, London 1994, pp. 97–111. ISBN 1-85409-247-2
  • Lee E. Russel and Andy Carroll, The US Marine Corps since 1945, Elite series 2, Osprey Publishing Ltd, London 1984. ISBN 0-85045-574-X
  • Matthew S. Gordon, The Gemayels (World Leaders Past & Present), Chelsea House Publishers, 1988. ISBN 1-55546-834-9
  • Moustafa El-Assad, Civil Wars Volume 1: The Gun Trucks, Blue Steel books, Sidon 2008. ISBN 9953-0-1256-8
  • Patrice Pivetta, Beyrouth 1983, la 3e compagnie du 1er RCP dans l'attentat du Drakkar, Militaria Magazine 342, January 2014, pp. 34–45. ISSN 0753-1877 (in French)
  • Rex Brynen, Sanctuary and Survival: the PLO in Lebanon, Boulder: Westview Press, 1990.
  • Robert Fisk, Pity the Nation: Lebanon at War, London: Oxford University Press, (3rd ed. 2001). ISBN 0-19-280130-9
  • 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
  • Samer Kassis, Les TIRAN 4 et 5, de Tsahal aux Milices Chrétiennes (1960-1990), Trucks & Tanks Magazine n.º 50, July–August 2015, pp. 54–61. ISSN 1957-4193 (in French)
  • Samuel M. Katz, Lee E. Russel, and Ron Volstad, Armies in Lebanon 1982-84, Men-at-Arms series 165, Osprey Publishing Ltd, London 1985. ISBN 0-85045-602-9

Further reading[edit]

  • Paul Andary, War of the Mountain: Israelis, Christians and Druze in the 1983 Mount Lebanon Conflict Through the Eyes of a Lebanese Forces Fighter, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform 2012. ISBN 978-1-463-55637-2
  • Denise Ammoun, Histoire du Liban contemporain: Tome 2 1943-1990, Fayard, Paris 2005. ISBN 978-2-213-61521-9 (in French)
  • Itamar Rabinovich, The war for Lebanon, 1970-1985, Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London 1989 (revised edition). ISBN 0-8014-9313-7
  • Jean Sarkis, Histoire de la guerre du Liban, Presses Universitaires de France - PUF, Paris 1993. ISBN 978-2-13-045801-2 (in French)
  • Samir Kassir, La Guerre du Liban: De la dissension nationale au conflit régional, Éditions Karthala/CERMOC, Paris 1994. ISBN 978-2865374991 (in French)

External links[edit]