Aoun Spirited Out of Lebanon on Submarine
Lebanese Gen. Michel Aoun arrived in exile Thursday in France after being spirited out of his homeland by submarine in a cloak-and-dagger operation.
French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas said he was pleased by Aoun’s arrival but declined to say anything about his whereabouts.
Security sources in Beirut said the 55-year-old Christian general was spirited out of Lebanon, where he had waged a futile battle against Syrian forces during 15 years of civil war.
Aoun, two aides and a bodyguard had been staying at the French Embassy in East Beirut since Oct. 13, when Syrian planes bombed his presidential palace headquarters and Syrian and Lebanese troops overran the last piece of territory that he controlled in Lebanon’s Christian enclave.
They left the embassy by a side entrance at dawn Thursday. Security sources said they drove to the Golden Beach naval base and boarded an inflatable speedboat, which made a rendezvous with a submarine two miles offshore.
The submarine headed for Cyprus, where the Paris government had a military plane waiting to take Aoun to France.
Aoun left Lebanon a few hours after Syrian-backed President Elias Hrawi signed a special amnesty for the general and his aides on condition that they stay out of the country for five years and do not resume political activity.