The three day-old ceasefire was violated in the Lebanese capital of Beirut on Wednesday, (10 October) when fighting broke out between Syrian members of the Arab Peacekeeping Force and rightwing Christian militias.
GV Smoke rising from village of Bikfaya, Lebanon
GV Buildings on hilltop PAN TO smoking village (2 shots)
GV Hilltop buildings burning
MV INT Women and children praying and singing hymns (2 shots)
MV Women with small children praying and singing (3 shots)
On 26 October, the Arab League is due to meet to decide whether to extend the mandate of the Syrian component of the Peacekeeping Force in Lebanon. Mr Sarkis has just concluded a tour of Arab Gulf states seeking to have them persuade Syria to withdraw its troops from the perimeter of the Christian sector of Beirut.
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Background: The three day-old ceasefire was violated in the Lebanese capital of Beirut on Wednesday, (10 October) when fighting broke out between Syrian members of the Arab Peacekeeping Force and rightwing Christian militias.
SYNOPSIS: The fighting took place in East Beirut - the main Christian area - and the nearby hills. The right-wing leaders who command the Christian militias are bitterly opposed to the continued presence of the Syrian members of the Peacekeeping Force and regard it as any army of occupation. The force was welcomed as an ally by the rightists when it intervened to help end the Lebanese civil war in November 1976, but mutual suspicion in an arena of fast-changing alliances has led to increasingly savage clashes between the two sides this year. In the latest outbreak, heavy machine-gun fire and sporadic shelling shook the Christian districts of Beirut.
One of the villages hit in the outbreak was Bikfaya. While the shelling was in progress, women and children took refuge in cellars and bolstered their spirits with prayers and hymns. It was reported that by Wednesday (11 October) at least 14 people had been killed in the isolated outbursts of fighting, and there were fears that there could be a return to the level of violence of the 1975/76 civil war.
The violation of the truce came as Lebanese President Elias Sarkis announced plans for an Arab Foreign Minister's Conference to work out measures for preventing renewed fighting between the Syrians and the Christian militias. The Foreign Minister of states which have sent soldiers or funds to support the Peacekeeping Force in Lebanon are to meet in Beirut on Sunday (15 October).