Security measures have been stepped up at Beirut airport after reports that a group of Iranian volunteers are about to arrive in Lebanon to fight alongside Palestinians against Israel.
GV EXTERIOR: Arrivals area, people with suitcases
GV: Military helicopters circling above airport
GV: Airliner taxiing, arriving at airport
SV: Military guard walking across the runway as plane taxis to terminal
GV EXTERIOR: Arrivals area PAN TO clock and Airport Sign
SV: Cameraman taking shots.
GV ZOOM TO SV: People arriving and departing by taxi.
GV: People with suitcases arriving at airport gate being greeted by relatives
GV: Bus on runway
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Security measures have been stepped up at Beirut airport after reports that a group of Iranian volunteers are about to arrive in Lebanon to fight alongside Palestinians against Israel. Lebanon has said it will not allow the volunteers to enter the country.
SYNOPSIS: Lebanese authorities plan to block the main runway if planes carrying volunteer fighters attempt to land. A militant Iranian religious leader, Sheikh Mohammed Montazeri, said he had up to ten thousand young guerrillas ready to fight against Israel and rightist militias.
Military helicopters and patrols on the ground were part of the stepped up security measures. The Lebanese government also instructed all frontier posts to bar Iranians from entering the country unless they held visas from the Lebanese embassy in Teheran.
While traffic flowed normally at Beirut, despite the security measures, there were also obstacles in Teheran to the intended invasion. About three hundred Iranians chanting Islamic slogans waited in vain at Teheran Mehrabad airport on Monday (10 December) for a plane to take them to Lebanon. The volunteer force squatted on the floor of the airport departure lounge as their leader negotiated for a plane. But officials of the state airline Iran Air said the group would not be given a plane because its members had neither valid passports nor permission to land in Beirut.
The Lebanese government had asked Iran to do all it can to stop the Iranian volunteers and Iranian officials in Beirut have stressed that the Iranian Government is not responsible for planning the airlift. Arrangements to block the airport runway were reported to have been made after Lebanon's President Sarkis called an emergency security meeting. But Sheikh Montazeri says he is prepared to fight his way in into Lebanon at the head of his guerrilla force.