tarabulus el gharb

Souk El Gharb

Souk El Gharb (also spelled Suk , Sug al , ul, Suq) is a village in the Mount Lebanon Governorate, Aley District, in the country of Lebanon. The name of the village translates to "Western Market."

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.


Note, An abbey is a place of worship associated with a monastery.

Additionally, there is a Protestant Church.


Souk El Gharb was famous for several schools: The Souk El Gharb Presbyterian School (alumni include Abraham Rihbany), The Souk El Gharb College of Lebanon, The Souk El Gharb Technical Institute and College, The Souk el Gharb School for English Instruction, and The Souk El Gharb Boarding School for Boys.


There are identifiable Roman ruins in the town. There are buildings dating back at least to the 16th Century.

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...

Battle of Souk El Gharb of September 1983

Souk-El-Gharb figured prominently in the Civil War but during this particular timeframe the town attracted worldwide attention due to the involvement of American Naval Forces. The backdrop for the battle was the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. In August 1983, Israel withdrew from the Chouf District (southeast of Beirut), thus removing the buffer between the Druze and the Christian militias and triggering another round of brutal fighting. By September, the Druze had gained control over most of the Chouf. However, it was the nominally non-sectarian Lebanese Army (LAF) that acted as a blocking force in Suk El Gharb during September, 1983 thwarting militia passage to the presidential palace in Baabda.

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.


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