NOTHING NEW UNDER THE SUN (ALMOST)
25th May, 1985 : Hundreds of men, women and children have died in a ferocious assault upon the Palestinian strongholds in Beirut by Syrian-backed Shi’ite militiamen. The battle for control of the Chatila and Sabra camps began when Amal, the Shi’ite private army, swarmed in to disarm Palestinian fighters. The camps, which were the scene of a massacre inflicted by Christian Lebanese militia during the Israeli invasion three years ago, are located in south Beirut.
Today bearded Amal irregulars, equipped with AK-47 assault rifles, fought it out in the back streets of the shanty town, overwhelming the PLO defenders, while Red Cross ambulances were refused entry. Even by Lebanese standards the battles are exceptionally vicious and bloody.
Nabih Berri, commander of the Amal forces, blames Yasser Arafat for attempting to rebuild the power-base in Beirut he lost last year by pumping in money and key men. Simultaneously, however, he is now moving towards peace negotiations with Israel, a process bitterly opposed by Syria and PLO defectors. To counteract these schemes the Syrian President, Hafez el Assad, organised an all-out attack on the camps. Using his Amal allies in the assault he hopes to break Palestinian power there once and for all and to establish Syrian rule. The Shi’ite offensive is the most cynical of Syria’s actions in Lebanon.
[ Oh, those good old, almost peacefull times, only thirty years ago! ]