It was on April 26, 2005 that the last Syrian troops left Lebanon, thus putting an end to a presence of almost three decades in the Land of the Cedars, following strong international pressure and Lebanese opposition following the assassination on February 14, 2005 of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri.
On this occasion, a departure ceremony was organized in Rayak in the Bekaa, in the presence of General Ali Habib, Syrian Chief of Staff, of Syrian General Rustom Ghazalé, who had commanded the powerful Syrian intelligence services in Lebanon, and the Commander of the Lebanese Army at the time, General Michel Sleiman.
This withdrawal took place within the framework of the UN Security Council resolution 1559, adopted in September 2004 at the initiative of France and the United States while the mandate of President Emile Lahoud was going to be renewed for 3 new years. at the initiative of Damascus. It aimed in particular to put an end to Syrian interference in Lebanese internal affairs and to the disarmament of all the militias still present.
A military presence in 1976 at the call of the Christian community then a change of alliance
Syria had imposed its influence on Lebanon thanks to the civil war which began in 1975, while relations between the two countries have always been somewhat problematic since their respective independence.
From June 1, 1976, Syrian President Hafez el Assad had sent his troops to Lebanon, officially to put an end to the PLO and Palestinian ambitions to form a quasi-state, imposing a relative ceasefire and already proposing a rebalancing of the sharing of power between communities to the detriment of the Christian community.
As early as 1976, the question of the presence of the Syrian Army will already arise. Favorite to the accession to the Presidency of the Republic, Raymond Eddé will finally be dismissed in favor of Elias Sarkis, the first point of his program being the departure of all foreign troops including those from Syria.
The Riyadh summit, which would take place subsequently, legitimized this intervention, with the creation of the Arab Deterrence Force (FAD), with the agreement of Sleiman Frangié, President of the Lebanese Republic, and Yasser Arafat, head of the ‘Palestine Liberation Organization. Originally, this force will number 30,000 men, including 25,000 Syrian soldiers.
Then, Syria will get more involved by changing its local alliances and bombing Christian areas, thus supporting the PLO.
Thus, Damascus will be accused of having assassinated the leader of the PSP, Kamal Joumblatt, who opposed the entry of his troops in 1976, or of supporting the Saïka, a Palestinian militia directly dependent on the orders of Syrian officers and who will fight the Christian defense militias.
Faced with this Syrian involvement, the Kataëb who made up the bulk of the Lebanese Front will come into contact with Israel, whose military wing was then headed by Bachir Gemayel. The Hebrew state will provide them with military equipment and military intelligence.
From March 1978, Israel invaded part of southern Lebanon 3 days after the massacre of 37 Israelis in a Tel Aviv bus by members of the PLO infiltrated from southern Lebanon.
In 1978, clashes directly opposed Christian and Syrian militias. For 100 days, the eastern part of Christian Beirut will be bombarded from July until October, by the Syrian Army and its allies, causing many deaths and injuries and significant material damage.
In 1981, it will be the turn of the city of Zahlé to become the martyr of a war with clashes between the Arab Dissuasion Forces, now mainly Syrian since the withdrawal in 1979 of other soldiers from other Arab countries, Kataëb and the involvement Israel, which will provide air support to them.
The Syrian Army is now lining up 40,000 troops in Lebanon.
From 1982, Damascus will be accused of having had the President of the Republic Bashir Gemayel assassinated, who stood up to him in Ashrafieh. The assassination, claimed by a member of the PSNS, Habib Chartouni, will lead, according to the official version, to the “punitive” massacre of Sabra and Chatila on the night of September 17 to 18. . His brother Amine succeeds him as president, under the military cover of the Tsahal. This, however, will gradually withdraw, thus allowing Damascus to regain a foothold in Lebanon.
The Syrian army will intervene in particular in Tripoli in the north of Lebanon when an Islamist militia will try to establish an emirate there. It will also support the Druze and Sunni militias opposed to the Phalangists during the Mountain War from 1982 to 1984.
The presence of the Syrian army will be called into question on several occasions during the civil war, in particular in June 1983, with the dissolution by the then President of the Republic Amine Gemayel of the Arab Deterrence Force, a year and a half later. the Israeli invasion of 1982.
Damascus will lead several mediations during this same period, until becoming the real arbiter, in particular through Ghazi Kanaan or even Abdel Halim Khaddam. Syria will also support the Amal movement supported by pro-Syrian Palestinian militias facing the PLO between 1985 and 1987.
In 1985, the Tripartite agreement signed by the Amal movement, the PSP of Walid Joumblatt and by Elie Hobeika on behalf of the Lebanese Forces but without the agreement of the movement’s command committee, will already foreshadow the Taëf chords , with the authorization given to the Syrian Army to remain in Lebanon “to separate the rival factions”. Elie Hobeika however lost to Samir Geagea and took refuge in the zone occupied by Damascus.
The main dates during the Civil War
The start of the civil war
Entry of Syrian troops into Lebanon
Israeli troops will intervene in Lebanon from March 14 to 21, 1978
The 100 Day War
Beginning of the Syrian bombardments of the district of Ashrafieh. They will continue until April 1978
Siege of Zahle
The siege of the city of Zahlé will begin on December 22, 1980 and will continue until June 30, 1981
Bachir Gemayel, President
Election of Bachir Gemayel as president of the republic. He will be assassinated on September 14, 1982. Syria will be accused of this assassination.