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1984: US troops withdraw from Beirut
American forces have withdrawn almost all of their troops from the Lebanese capital, Beirut.

About 1,000 US Marines left the coast beside the international airport as Shi'ite militiamen arrived in jeeps and armoured vehicles to take over.

Only 100 soldiers have been left in the city to guard American diplomatic personnel at the British Embassy on the western sea front.

US President Ronald Reagan ordered military personnel to begin pulling out of the area over a week ago following a recent upsurge in terrorist attacks.

The withdrawal ends 18 months of conflict in a country which has been torn apart by war with Israel.

As long as there is a chance we are not bugging out. We are moving to deploy into a more defensive position
US President Ronald Reagan

Despite the withdrawal, President Reagan insisted that the US was not turning its back on Lebanon.

"Once the terrorist attacks started there was no way that we could really contribute to the original mission by staying there as a target just bunkering down and waiting for further attacks," he said.

"I don't think we have lost as yet, although I know things don't look too bright. As long as there is a chance we are not bugging out.

"We are moving to deploy into a more defensive position."

US forces were originally sent in to act as a peacekeeping force between warring Christian and Muslim factions in August 1982.

But 264 American military personnel have died since then, most of them killed during a suicide bomb attack last November.

Fighting has continued over the last week with several Israeli military aircraft bombing towns and villages held by Palestinian guerrillas high in the mountains to the east.

Further conflict has also broken out along the Beirut front line.

The US Marines were sent in 18 months ago to help the Lebanese administration but as the last troops pulled out there was no official government delegation present to see them off.

Instead, gunmen riding motorcycles watched without emotion as US military helicopters airlifted the last front line troops to warships off the Lebanese coast.

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US forces
US forces were sent in to act as a peacekeeping force

Beirut bids farewell to American troops



In Context
Following the withdrawal of US forces, King Fahd of Saudi Arabia personally pleaded with President Reagan not to abandon diplomatic efforts in Lebanon.

A multinational alliance made up of British, French and Italian troops signed a joint resolution with the US to maintain peace in Beirut in October 1983.

America eventually ended its participation in the Multinational Force at the end of March 1984.

The rest of the alliance left Lebanon in April 1984.

Later that year 20 people were killed after the US embassy was attacked by a suicide bomber.

Beirut remained a dangerous place for US citizens to live and during the 1980s, 270 American people were killed in bombings, assassinations and kidnappings and five were abducted but later released.

Stories From 26 Feb


 
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