Syrian troops with Arab League peacekeeping forces have tightened their hold on the Lebanese capital, Beirut, and started tearing down barricades in the city's ravage commercial centre.
GVs AND LVs Wrecked buildings and debris-strewn streets in Beirut, Lebanon
GV PAN Syrian army vehicle of Arab peace-keeping force drives through rubble in streets
SV Infantry arrive
SVs AND LVs Troops watch as tanks and armoured personnel carriers arrive (4 shots)
SV Line of supply trucks
SVs Street sign and bulldozer clearing debris (2 shots)
SVs AND CU Other bulldozers clearing burned and wrecked buses from streets (3 shots)
SVs AND CU More troops arrive on armoured personnel carriers and tanks past waving people (3 shots)
LV AND CU People waving from balconies (2 shots)
GVs AND SVs Civilians walking in rubble strewn streets (4 shots)
SVs AND LV Spectators watching journalists playing football (3 shots)
LV Doves fly overhead
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Background: Syrian troops with Arab League peacekeeping forces have tightened their hold on the Lebanese capital, Beirut, and started tearing down barricades in the city's ravage commercial centre.
SYNOPSIS: The city's commercial centre, that was once the Arab world's financial capital, is now only a gutted hulk, Anything worth taking has bene looted. The Bank of Beirut and the Middle East was one of the targets. Records had long ago been saved and hidden but every safe deposit box had been rifled. Starting at dawn on Monday (15 November) six columns of Syrian troops backed by tanks rolled into the city centre.
Left and right wing forces exchanged murderous artillery fire in a last battle but by the time the Syrian peace-keeping force arrived the fighting had stopped. Beirut Radio said on Syrian soldier had been killed and five wounded as they cleared mines in the area. At least six thousand Syrian troops were reported to have taken up positions in and around Beirut, relying on their tanks and artillery to prevent both sides from continuing the fight.
The force, which totals 30,000 men, was set up after the Arab summits in Riyadh and Cairo in Saudi Arabia and Egypt last month. The force is supposed to be a mixed Arab one, but only a sprinkling of Saudi Arabian and Sudanese troops in white painted trucks could be seen amongst the generally camouflaged armour of the Syrians. Giant Syrian bulldozers made quick work of the barricades which included bullet-ridden buses.
As the Syrian armour rolled into the city, it was greeted by happy Lebanese desperately hopeful for a return to normal life after the harrowing 19 months of the bloody civil war. The Lebanese Minister of Information, Mr. Ghassan Tueni, says about 60 thousand people have been killed and 200,000 wounded in the war. About 1,700,000 people needed urgent help and many are maimed and handicapped. In addition to immediate help for the people, Lebanon need massive aid to rebuild itself after the war.
But the scenes of jubilation surrounding the entry of the peacekeeping force belie the tension still just under the surface where volatile political passions can quickly erupt and change the situation. Both right wing and left wing factions have said they are waiting to see what happens before acceding completely to the conditions and intent of the latest ceasefire.
They still have their guns -- secreted for the moment but quickly retrievable. It remains to be seen for how long the dove of peace will fly over Lebanon.