Once known as the ‘Switzerland of the Middle East’, an island of economic stability and social progress, Lebanon was shattered by a civil war that raged from 1975 until 1990. While Volume 1 of this mini-series concentrated on the conflict pitting the central government against different factions and alliances of Christians, Sunni and Shi’a Moslems, leftists, and the Israeli and Syrian armed forces from its beginning in 1975 until the Israeli Operation Stone of Wisdom (or Operation Litani) in 1978, Volume 2 continues with the period from 1978 until 1981.
With its armed forces of a size comparable to that of the strength of the active components of the contemporary US Army and led by politicians pursuing aggressive intentions towards its northern neighbour, Israel gradually established itself in control over much of southern Lebanon and all of Lebanese airspace. In turn, Syria found itself facing not only a growing insurgency and unrest at home, but also strong opposition inside Lebanon. Moreover, a seemingly endless series of air battles with the Israeli air force exposed a growing technological gap with its primary opponent, forcing it to deploy ever larger contingents of its air defences into Lebanon. After almost culminating in a major war in 1981, the situation was defused through international pressure: nominally at least, a relatively quiet period was to follow before the next storm.
Focusing on military-related developments, and containing much exclusive detail and specially commissioned illustrations, Volume 2 of Lebanese Civil War dissects the military forces of Israel, Syria and the many Lebanese militias, their equipment, intentions and capabilities, and provides a detailed, blow-by-blow account of combat operations into 1981.