Times of Trouble

Flashpoints in Modern Lebanese History

View of Beirut, Lebanon, with palm and pine trees in the foreground (Aline Talatinian / iStockphoto)
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1943 — Lebanon, which was a French territory after World War I, becomes an independent republic.

1958 — U.S. President Eisenhower sends Marines to Lebanon to quell a burgeoning civil war.

1967-1970 — After the Arab-Israeli War, an influx of Palestinian refugees establish camps in Lebanon, which become a base for militants and the nascent Palestinian Liberation Organization.

1975 — Civil war erupts in Lebanon after Christian militants attack a busload of Palestinians in Beirut, igniting sectarian tensions.

1976 — Syrian troops move into Beirut to support the Lebanese army, and end up staying for nearly 30 years.

1978 — Israeli troops invade Lebanon. They withdraw at the UN's insistence a few months later but maintain a 12-mile-wide buffer zone in the south until 2000.

1982 — In June, Israel invades again. In September, Lebanon's newly elected president Bashir Gemayel is assassinated, and his militia responds by killing hundreds in the Palestinian refugee camps. International peacekeepers are sent in, including Marines.

1983 — Shiite suicide bombers attack the U.S. embassy and then the Marine barracks in Beirut, killing more than 350 people in total. President Reagan withdraws the troops the next year.

1985 — Israel withdraws from all but the southern buffer zone.

1991 — Most militias disarm under the Taif agreement, ending the civil war, but Hezbollah stays armed as a "resistance force" against Israel.

About Amanda Fiegl

Amanda Fiegl is a former assistant editor at Smithsonian and is now a senior editor at the Nature Conservancy.

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