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Haddad Extends the Area Controlled by His Militia

February 16, 1983
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Maj. Saad Haddad, leader of the Israel-backed Christian Free Lebanon Forces, has extended the area controlled by his militia to virtually all of south Lebanon from the Israel border to the Litani River, an area far larger than the border strip he originally controlled.

At the invitation of the Israel Defense Force, Haddad held an impromptu press conference in this Lebanese seaport yesterday, the country’s fourth largest city, for members of the American Jewish Press Association/United Jewish Appeal mission travelling in Lebanon. They were assembled in the courtyard of the IDF compound here, flanked by a dozen freshly painted Sherman tanks provided Haddad’s forces by Israel.

With an IDF spokesman, identified only as Maj. Shlomo, standing by, Haddad, responding to questions, told the American Jewish journalists that the presence of the tanks represented “a redeployment of forces.” He was referring obviously to his pronouncement, made hours later, that he was broadening his base of operations.

The IDF spokesman said, “We think it’s time for him to help us do our job,” He added, “It’s a question of principle. We must try to get them (Haddad’s forces) to take care of Israel’s northern border because it is good for all of us.” He said Haddad had demonstrated an ability to unite Lebanon’s diverse elements to “stop killing each other and work together against the PLO.”

Haddad said he was “not too optimistic” about the withdrawal of foreign troops from Lebanon. “The political situation is too complicated. I don’t think the Syrians will pull out,” he said. He cited the introduction of new Soviet-made SAM-6 missiles as a sign the Syrians are not considering an imminent withdrawal from Lebanon.

Haddad expressed satisfaction that his forces had been cleared by the Israeli commission of inquiry of any involvement in the west Beirut refugee camps massacre. But he refused to comment on the forced resignation of Defense Minister Ariel Sharon. “This is Israel’s problem,” he said.

Asked about the discovery of some 15 more bodies in and around Sidon, Haddad observed: “Many people still have weapons. I hope such things will stop. It is not to the benefit of anyone in Lebanon that this vendetta go on. This is a real crime.”

The IDF spokesman elaborated on the killings. “There is a distortion in the way the deaths have been reported,” he said. “There was no discovery of a great mound of bodies at one time. They were found singly over a period of one month. These people have been killing each other for years,” he added, noting that “There are still armed gangs roving the area. Although the carrying of arms is outlawed, there are many weapons available.”

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