INTRODUCTION: A leftist Lebanese army unit, assisted by Syrian troops, has taken up new positions near the Christian stronghold of Zahle.
GV PAN Hawsh al-Umara
SV PAN Troops running
SV Commander Ziad al-Hunsi crouched watching troops run past
GV PAN Damaged houses and rooftops
SV Soldier taking up firing position and troops combing area (2 shots)
SV Ziad al-Hunsi in sandbagged emplacement speaking in Arabic
GV Trucks moving in
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Background: INTRODUCTION: A leftist Lebanese army unit, assisted by Syrian troops, has taken up new positions near the Christian stronghold of Zahle. Zahle, strategically located in central Lebanon, was the scene in April of bitter fighting between Syrian and Christian forces. But on Thursday (28 June), Lebanese troops moved into the nearby town of Hawsh al-Umara without a shot being fired.
SYNOPSIS: The town lies in the Bekaa Valley on one of the approach roads to Zahle.
As the troops moved in there was no sign of resistance from the opposing Falangist militias based nearby. The action by the Moslem unit was seen as a show of force to the Christian who dominate the area. The group's commander kept watch as his men took over the streets.
The battle-scarred houses bore witness to the fighting which raged around nearby Zahle in April.
But Hawsh al-Umara was calm as Lebanese and Syrian troops secured their positions. Unit commander Ziad al-Humsi spoke about the aims of the mission.
He called on the Arabs to bring the Lebanese crisis to an end. he stated that his troops had taken up new positions in Hawsh al-Umara, and said they would advance further. The recent fighting in Zahle was some of the worst in recent years. But the town and surrounding area have been relatively calm since Arab foreign ministers secured a tentative ceasefire earlier this month.