Amal, Hezbollah Agree To Peace After Assassins Over To Syria
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) _ Lebanon’s warring Shiite Moslem factions agreed late Sunday to end a 9- month-old power struggle that has claimed at least 500 lives, officials announced.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati told reporters that the agreement between the Syrian-backed Amal and the pro-Iranian Hezbollah, or Party of God, will be signed Monday.
″I will stay on until they sign,″ said Velayati, who had been scheduled to fly back to Tehran late Sunday.
″I hope that Amal and Hezbollah can continue their cooperation. One of the most important subjects that both sides have agreed upon is the cease-fire,″ he said outside the ministry.
The agreement came after both factions handed over to Syria the assassins of leaders of both groups.
Brig. Gen. Ghazi Kenaan, Syria’s military intelligence chief in Lebanon, told The Associated Press that Hezbollah delivered the men who assassinated Amal’s leader in south Lebanon, Daoud Daoud, in a south Beirut ambush Sept. 22.
He said Syrian forces also were given an Amal man accused by Hezbollah of killing Sheik Ali Krayyem, one of its leaders, in the Bekaa Valley of east Lebanon soon after Daoud Daoud’s slaying.
He did not name them or say what will happen to them.
But the mutual surrender of the alleged assassins was apparently the key to securing the long-elusive treaty after tough bargaining to end the war between the Shiite rivals in Lebanon.
More than 500 people have been killed and 1,500 wounded since the hostility between the rival Shiite movements exploded into open warfare in April.
The fighting has been halted several times through cease-fires arranged by Syria and Iran. But the deep-rooted enmity between the groups, which has divided clans and families, has repeatedly shattered the truces in bloody clashes.
The peace accord emerged from the meeting between Velayati, Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa and Amal and Hezbollah leaders.
Amal leader Nabih Berri and Hezbollah chieftains led by Sheik Ibrahim Amin were brought in for face-to-face talks after the foreign ministers hammered out a formula in three rounds of talks Saturday and Sunday.
Asked whether the fate of 15 foreign hostages, many of them widely believed to be held by groups linked to Hezbollah, would be affected by the peace treaty, Amin noted: ″This matter has no relation with us, nor with the agreement.″
Nine Americans are among the captives and the longest held hostage is Terry A. Anderson, 40, chief Middle East correspondent for The Associated Press, who was kidnapped March 16, 1985.
Fighting between Amal and Hezbollah for control of Lebanon’s 1 million Shiites, the country’s largest sect, has strained relations between Damascus and Tehran.
Syria, the main power broker in Lebanon, considers that country its sphere of influence and vital to its regional ambitions.
Tehran has long sought to establish an Islamic-style Islamic republic there through Hezbollah. The secular Syrians view Hezbollah’s bid for power as a serious challenge.
The more secular and nationalist Amal seeks a multi-sect government in Lebanon, with Moslems sharing power with the traditionally dominant Christians.