Before the Lebanese Civil War, it was a prosperous mountain resort, nestled in the Chouf Mountain of Mount Lebanon in a pine forest and overlooking Saint George Bay and Beirut. Being only a few kilometers from the mountain city of Aley, it is considered today one of Aley's suburbs. The villages that lie between Aley and Souk El Gharb are Bmakine and the two Ains (the modern spelling in Lebanese is 3ayn): Ain el-Sayydé (our Lady's spring), and Ain el-Rimmané (the spring of the pomegranate). South of Souk El Gharb lies the village of Kaifun.
Additionally, there is a Protestant Church.
The town was the scene of many notable battles during the Civil War, its notability arising from being actually held longterm by the Lebanese Army rather than a militia. This was sometimes against great odds and against the backing of the Syrian forces. General Michel Aoun's Eighth Brigade squared off against the Progressive Socialist Party's "PSP" militia and their allies for many years. Unfortunately for the civilian population, it led to the destruction of the town.
In June, 2005 parliamentary elections were held in the village for the first time since the withdrawal of Syrian forces. One resident put it this way: "For me, ballot box battles are for sure much better than gunbattles...
Baabda lay downhill on the Beirut-Aley-Damascus highway. The militias coming up from the south had to traverse Suk El Gharb to get to the Beirut-Aley road. Moreover, Suk El Gharb controlled a ridge that overlooked Baabda, Yarze which was the location of the Ministry of Defence, and East Beirut. From that ridge, the Militia gunners could shoot directly downhill at those locations with artillery.
The Lebanese Army chief tried to get the Americans involved, reasoning with them that they should since the Syrians were backing Militias. At first, the Americans refused but eventually agreed when told Suk El Gharb was in danger of getting overrun. The USS Virginia (CGN-38), USS John Rodgers (DD-983), USS Bowen, and USS Arthur W. Radford fired 338 rounds from their five inch (127 mm) guns in support of Lebanese Army forces defending Suk El Gharb. The LAF were able to hold the town. It's an open question whether they would have held it without the naval support. Much of the town was destroyed during these hostilities.
Some authors, including Thomas Friedman point to the use of this naval gunfire as the beginning point of the U.S. forces being seen as participants in the civil war rather than peace keepers and opening them up to retaliation.
Much use was made of landmines in the vicinity of the town and demining is an ongoing concern. A certain position known as Hill 888 was extensively mined.