INTRODUCTION: Tension remained high in the Middle East on Tuesday (29 May) after Syria claimed to have shot down its sixth pilotless Israeli reconnaissance aircraft.
Beirut. GVs Green Line area, damaged building, shots being fired (3 shots)
SV Militiaman with binoculars
LVs Building under fire from bazooka. Sound of gunfire as militiamen run for cover. (2 shots)
LVs Street and buildings (2 shots)
SVs INTERIOR US envoy Philip Habib with Lebanese President Elias Sarkis, Lebanese Prime Minister & Minister of the Interior Shafiq al-Wazzan (2 shots)
LV Anti-aircraft gun, sound of battle
GV Militiamen orginising anmunition (INTERIOR)
SV PAN UN troops at Beirut airport
LV UN troops in front of aircraft
SV UN vehicle
LV UN troops and equipment on tarmac at airport
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Background: INTRODUCTION: Tension remained high in the Middle East on Tuesday (29 May) after Syria claimed to have shot down its sixth pilotless Israeli reconnaissance aircraft. Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin said he was ready to go Beirut at 24 hours' notice to open peace talks with Lebanese President Elias Sarkis. And in Beirut, fighting continues unabated between Christian and Moslem militiamen.
SYNOPSIS: Shooting broke out on Thursday (21 May) on the Green Line, the border which divides the Lebanese capital. Only few hundred metres (yards) away traffic flowed normally as people made their way to work.
Amid the snipping and rocket fire, which has become a normal part of life in Beirut, there were reports from southern Lebanon of artillery exchanges between joint Palestinian and Leftist forces and Israeli-backed Rightist militias in the Christian border enclave.
Meanwhile, U.S. envoy Philip Habib continues his shuttle diplomacy, returning once more to Beirut on Friday (22 May).
Mr. Habib met Lebanese President Elias Sarkis and Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Shafiq al-Wazzan. The meeting produced no proposals for peace. Lebanese Prime Minister Wazzan would only say that there were some indications which raised optimism, though this did not remove what he called disquieting possibilities.
U.S. envoy Habib regards a settlement between the warring factions inside Lebanon as crucial in securing a lasting political solution in the Middle East. US officials declined to say whether there had been any progress in Mr.Habib continuing mission, but Israeli sources said Israel was keeping on the sidelines while Saudi Arabia was being asked to act as a mediator among the rival forces in the Lebanese conflict. A Palestinian leader said in Beirut on Sunday (24 May) that Syria's President Assad would withdraw his troops from Lebanon only if asked to do so by Lebanese leaders. Meanwhile Lebanese government sources said on Tuesday (26 May) that Israeli Prime Minister Begin's peace talk offer was unworthy of reply.
These Dutch UN troops arrived in Beirut on Tuesday (26 May) to reinforce the Syrian peacekeeping force in Lebanon. They are the latest addition to the UNIFIL scheme (United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon), and have been sent to the Middle East to try to contain the fighting between the warring Christian and Moslems. But as tension increases and with no solution in sight, hopes for a settlement of US envoy Habib to bring the many sides around the table to work out a compromise.