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The flat was filled with people prepared to risk shellfire to welcome a newcomer

It’s July 1989 and Robert Fisk is trying to set up home in Beirut – a city being bombarded by the Syrians, with no electricity and precious little water

Saturday 22 May 2021 23:11

Trying to set up a new home in west Beirut is a little like trying to complete a crossword in a crashing airliner. Anyone who thinks the parallel is exaggerated should purchase a fridge, washing machine and television set in the city and try to wire them on to a stolen power line during a barrage of incoming shells. When we decided to arrange a house-warming lunch party, several of the guests said they would be delighted to come if the house was not under fire at the time.

When it came to washing the floor after the party, the city’s electrical power supply had already been cut, the pumps had stopped working and the taps emitted just a cup of water. Not that it mattered.

At 9am, the Syrian guns down the road began to fire into east Beirut and the return shells delivered by General Aoun’s army literally rocked our home. This is not a news agency cliché. Standing by the door, I saw the floor move backwards and forwards with the impact of the explosions. When I sat down, the chair swayed beneath me.

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