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Prior to the outbreak of the Civil War in , the town, along with neighboring Aley, was a popular tourist destination for wealthy Arab outsiders from the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf , who used to own there luxurious Villas where they spent the summers, escaping the heat and humidity in their own countries. In addition to these schools, Souk El Gharb also houses the Balamand university. History[ edit ] The high school of Suk-el-Gharb, Lebanon, Souk El Gharb has been inhabited since ancient times, as attested by the Roman vestiges found in the town area.
Most of its historical buildings date back at least from the era of Ottoman rule in the 16th Century. The town itself was the scene of several notable fierce battles during the Lebanese Civil War , its notability arising from being actually held for a long time by the Lebanese Army rather than a particular Lebanese militia. This was sometimes achieved against great odds, by facing strong pressure from Lebanese Muslim militias backed both by Syrian Army forces stationed at Lebanon and the Palestine Liberation Organization PLO guerrilla factions.
Unfortunately for the local civilian population, it also led to the destruction of much of their town. In June , parliamentary elections were held in the town for the first time since the withdrawal of Syrian Army troops from Lebanon.
One resident put it in this way: "For me, ballot box battles are for sure much better than gunbattles Baabda lay downhill on the Beirut -Aley- Damascus highway, and any militia forces advancing from the south had to pass through Souk El Gharb in order to get into the Beirut-Aley road. From that ridge, Druze PLA artillery units had a point-blank light of sight to those areas. The Lebanese Army Commander-in-Chief, Lieutenant general Ibrahim Tannous , tried to get the Americans involved, reasoning with them that they should do so, since the Syrians were backing the anti-government militias.
At first, the Americans refused but eventually agreed when they were told that Souk El Gharb was in danger of being overrun. However, it remains an open question whether they would have held it without the American naval support.
The PLA seized Souk El Gharb three times over, but failed at each occasion to keep it for long: firstly in September , because of the American naval bombardments; secondly in March , after U. Some authors, including Thomas Friedman have argued that the use of the naval bombardments was the turning point in which the U.
One strategic position known as Hill , overlooking the Beirut International Airport was extensively mined.
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