Lebanon Closes Last Two Ports Run by Militias

Associated Press

The Lebanese government took another step toward reasserting its authority Wednesday by closing the last two militia-run ports and taking full control of seaborne trade for the first time in a decade.

The two ports had been operated by the Druze Progressive Socialist Party in this village south of Beirut and by the Shiite Muslim Amal militia in Ouzai on the city's southern edge.

Closing the ports that sprang up during Lebanon's 16-year civil war was intended to help refill the depleted Treasury by rerouting trade to five ports run by the Customs Department along Lebanon's 130-mile-long Mediterranean coast.

The government of President Elias Hrawi estimates that the illegal militia ports cost it $100 million a year in lost customs duties.

During the civil war, and especially after the Israeli invasion in 1982, the militias used their ports not only for food and other consumer goods but also for weapons and ammunition.

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