War of the Mountain
In September 1983 the Israeli Army withdrew from Beirut and Mount Lebanon, and established a front line at the Awali River in South Lebanon, leaving the Druze (PSP) and Christian (LF) militias facing each other. Though Israel’s presence in no way prevented clashes or helped protect civilians
from being abused by both sides, its withdrawal paved the way for an intensification of incidents, thus opening the chapter of the War of the Mountain, which lasted from the end of August 1983 and December 1983.
The end result of the war was the quasi-total eviction of Christians from the region. Deir al-Qamar, a town where thousands of Christians from surrounding villages had sought refuge, was besieged for three months. The legacy of this war lasted much longer, however, because the violence spread to the Ech Chehhar (February 1984), east of Saida and Iqlim al-Kharoub (1985).
The opponents were the LF on one side and the PSP, with members of two pro-Syrian Palestinian factions, Fatah al-Intifada and PFLP–GC, and support from the Syrian Army on the other. During this period, U.S. and French troops, as part of the MNF, also intervened.374 For example, on December 4,
1983, U.S. aircraft took off from the Sixth Fleet and bombed Druze-Palestinian positions that were locked in clashes with the Lebanese Army in their bid to reach Baabda. The United States also attacked Syrian positions on the hilltops above Beirut. On February 8, 1984, the USS New Jersey bombed PSP
positions in the Mountain.
As noted, before the outbreak of the War of the Mountain, incidents had taken place between the same groups from 1982 through the summer of 1983. In early January 1983, fighting between the LF and PSP was under way on the Souk al-Gharb-Aley front, using RPGs, heavy gunfire, and artillery. It quickly
expanded to cover most villages and town in the Aley-Shuf district and northern Mount Lebanon, an area controlled by Israeli forces. By mid-1983, the fighting extended to cover East Beirut and its suburbs, as PSP and Syrian artillery pounded residential areas, which were under the LF’s control.
In the end, the War of the Mountain resulted in the killing of 1,155 Christian396 and 207 Druze civilians; moreover, the fate of 2,700 civilians remained unknown, and at least 163,000 Christians and several thousand Druze were displaced from the villages. During the entire period, 116 villages were damaged or burned, in addition to 135 churches and monasteries that were destroyed, burned and desecrated in the region of Mount Lebanon, Shuf, Aley, and Baabda.