INTRODUCTION: In Lebanon, the three-month-old siege of Zahle is over.
SV Militia men in buses giving victory signs.
SV PAN Militia mean being greeted.
SV ZOOM TO SCU Falangist commander Beshir Gemayel in crowd.
GV PAN Getting off trucks.
SV Christian leaders walk in group through crowd, Beshir Gemayel, in battle fatigues in front, his father, Pierre Gemayel in dark suit, former president Camille Chamoun in light suit with glasses on his left.
GV Soldiers marching down street as crowd cheers and claps.
SV Soldiers standing on tank behind Lebanese flag.
SV Militia standing listening as Beshir Gemayel speaks in Arabic. (2 SHOTS)
Background: INTRODUCTION: In Lebanon, the three-month-old siege of Zahle is over. Residents of the battered, central Lebanese town on Tuesday (30 June) welcomed a contingent of security forces under the authority of the Lebanese government. The troops took over policing the town after lengthy negotiations involving several Arab states led to an agreement on the future of Zahle. Later, several busloads of Christian Falangist fighters were evacuated from the city. In the Christian-dominated area near Beirut, they were received like heroes.
SYNOPSIS: The Falangists had withstood months of relentless bombardment by Syrian troops. For them the aim was to keep Zahle's 150,000 Christians free of Syrian control. Their opponents saw in Zahle a strategic city vital to their plans. Zahle straddles both the Beirut-Damascus highway, and Lebanon's main route linking North and South.
Falangist leaders, including militia leader Beshir Gemayel, welcomed the ceasefire, which was worked out a week previously which gave the promise of peace without surrender to Syria.
As the Falangist troops neared Beirut, they were welcomed by several Christian leaders. Beshir Gemayel, his father Pierre Gemayel, seen here in the dark suit, and former Lebanese president Camille Chamoun, on his left. Crowds lined the streets to cheer the troops. Falangist sources said later the men would eventually go to Beirut. Five busloads of troops were withdrawn from Zahle. They left weapons behind in Zahle, but there were plenty more for them here.
Zahle suffered damage during the siege. Military sources estimated at least one building in three had been hit. The war-weary inhabitants signalled their approval of the agreement with flowers. But Syrian troops still surround the town. Elsewhere in Lebanon fighting continues and these Falangist troops are expected to take part.