US embassy cable - 85BEIRUT2659 (original version)

INTENSE FIGHTING ALONG BEIRUT'S GREEN LINE (original version)

Identifier: 85BEIRUT2659
Wikileaks: View 85BEIRUT2659 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Beirut
Created: 1985-05-07 10:26:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PREL LE
Redacted: This cable was redacted by Wikileaks. [Show redacted version] [Compare redacted and unredacted version]
O 071026Z MAY 85
FM AMEMBASSY BEIRUT
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2947
INFO AMEMBASSY KKU
CUS PRIORITY 0965
AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L BEIRUT 02659 
 
E.O. 12356:  DECL:  OADR 
TAGS:  PGOV, PREL, LE 
SUBJECT:  INTENSE FIGHTING ALONG BEIRUT'S GREEN LINE 
 
1.  C-ENTIRE TEXT. 
 
2.  THE NIGHT OF MAY 6-7 WITNESSED SOME OF THE HEAVIEST 
GREEN LINE FIGHTING SINCE THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE 
JULY 4, 1984, BEIRUT SECURITY PLAN.  AS ALWAYS, IT IS 
IMPOSSIBLE TO RECONSTRUCT THE EXACT SEQUENCE OF EVENTS. 
HOWEVER IT APPEARS THAT THE FIGHTING BEGAN AS AN 
EXCHANGE OF SHELLING (TANKS, ROCKETS, AND ARTILLERY BY 
BOTH SIDES), THEN ESCALATED INTO BLIND SHELLING OF 
RESIDENTIAL AREAS IN BOTH EAST AND WEST BEIRUT.  THE 
HEAVIEST FIGHTING WAS APPARENTLY CONCENTRATED IN THE 
PORT AND RAS AL-NABAH AREAS, WITH SHELLS HITTING THE 
EASTERN RESIDENTIAL DISTRICTS OF ASHRAFIYAH AND SIN 
AL-FIL, AS WELL AS VARIOUS WEST BEIRUT NEIGHBORHOODS. 
SCATTERED ROUNDS ALSO FELL IN THE GENERAL AREA OF AWKAR, 
RABIYAH, AND NACCACHE, ALTHOUGH THERE IS NO EVIDENCE 
THAT THESE AREAS WERE SPECIFICALLY TARGETED. 
 
3.  ALTHOUGH EXACT FIGURES ARE UNAVAILABLE, IT IS CLEAR 
THAT CASUALTIES WERE HEAVIER THAN IS USUAL IN GREEN LINE 
FIGHTING.  EMBASSY SOURCES REPORT SEEING UP TO 
TWENTY-FIVE BODIES IN THE PORT AREA, AND THE LAF REPORTS 
LOSING ONE KILLED AND TWELVE INJURED.  THERE ARE 
UNCONFIRMED REPORTS THAT THE PSP AND AMAL REQUESTED A 
CEASE-FIRE FOR 1600 HOURS LOCAL TIME IN ORDER TO 
RETRIEVE THE DEAD AND WOUNDED FROM THE NO-MAN'S LAND 
SEPARATING THE WARRING FACTIONS.  THE RIZK TOWER IN EAST 
BEIRUT WAS HIT BY A TANK ROUND, DESTROYING GOL 
REPEATER EQUIPMENT AND DAMAGING THE ANTENNA OF A 
GOVERNMENT TELEVISION STATION. 
 
4.  AUB SOURCES INDICATED THAT THE UNIVERSITY SUFFERED 
ONLY LIGHT DAMAGE, ALTHOUGH ONE STUDENT SUFFERED 
INJURIES REQUIRING HOSPITALIZATION.  SCHOOL IS OPEN 
TODAY, MAY 7, BUT ATTENDANCE IS SPARSE.  THIS SOURCE 
REPORTED THAT THE PREVAILING ATTITUDE AMONG AMERICAN 
CITIZENS IN WEST BEIRUT IS ONE OF "DEPRESSION."  THEY 
SEE NO DIRECT AND IMMEDIATE THREAT, SUCH AS OF THE LF OR 
LAF CROSSING THE GREEN LINE TO ATTACK WEST BEIRUT, BUT 
RECENT EVENTS HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO A FEELING OF 
HOPELESSNESS ABOUT THE IMMEDIATE FUTURE OF LEBANON. 
THIS SOURCE SAID THAT ALTHOUGH AUB AMCIT FACULTY MEMBERS 
ARE NOT PLANNING TO LEAVE BEIRUT NOW IN RESPONSE TO A 
PERCEIVED THREAT, MANY ARE PLANNING ON LEAVING LEBANON 
AFTER THE END OF THE TERM IN LATE JUNE, EITHER BY NOT 
RENEWING THEIR CONTRACTS OR BY TAKING A YEAR'S 
SABBATICAL. 
 
5.  THE SITUATION ON THE GROUND REMAINS TENSE MAY 7, 
WITH MOST STORES REPORTEDLY CLOSED IN MUCH OF WEST 
BEIRUT AND THE ASHRAFIYAH SECTION OF EAST BEIRUT.  THOSE 
SHOPS THAT ARE OPEN ARE MOSTLY OF THE MOM AND POP FOOD 
STORE VARIETY.  THE SITUATION APPROACHES NORMAL IN 
EASTERN AREAS FURTHER FROM THE GREEN LINE.  ALL GREEN 
LINE CROSSINGS ARE OFFICIALLY CLOSED. 
 
6.  COMMENT.  IT IS STILL TOO SOON TO TELL IF RECENT 
OUTBREAKS REPRESENT SPONTANEOUS OUTBURSTS OR ARE 
POLITICALLY MOTIVATED.  WE EXPECT THE SHARP FIGHTING 
ALONG THE GREEN LINE TO CONTINUE.  HOWEVER, DESPITE 
UNSUBSTANTIATED RUMORS OF TROOP MOVEMENTS AND FEARS OF 
IMPENDING CLASHES, SUQ AL-GHARB HAS REMAINED CURIOUSLY 
QUIET.  END COMMENT. 
 
BARTHOLOMEW 
 
NOTE BY OC/T:  HEADING AS RECEIVED.  CORRECTION TO FOLLOW. 

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