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The Arab Deterrent Force (ADF; Arabic: قوات الردع العربية) was a military intervention force created by the Riyadh Summit of 17–18 October 1976, attended by heads of state from Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. The meeting was not held within the formal framework of the Arab League. It decided to transform the 'token' Arab Security Force into the Arab Deterrent Force. A week later, the conclusions of the Riyadh Summit were endorsed by the Arab League summit held in Cairo on 25–26 October 1976.[1]

As the Lebanese Civil War escalated in 1976, the Arab League created an intervention force composed almost entirely of Syrian forces with token contributions from other Arab states, including Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Libya. Although nominally present at the behest of the government of Lebanon, the force was under the direct command of Syria. The ADF initially consisted of 30,000 troops of which 25,000 were provided by Syria. In the spring of 1979, after the Arab League had extended the mandate of the Arab Deterrent Force, the Sudanese, the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates troops departed Lebanon, the Libyan troops were essentially abandoned and had to find their own way home (if at all), and the ADF thereby became a purely Syrian force (which did include the Palestinian Liberation Army (PLA))[citation needed]. Robert Fisk wrote:[2]

..Since the summer of 1976, the Syrians had controlled the Bekaa Valley. The headquarters of their 'Arab Deterrent Force' was at the Bekaa market town of Chtaura and their troops were billetted all the way up the valley, around the Greek Orthodox town of Zahle - where Cody and I had seen the Syrians and Phalangists cooperating in 1976 - at the airbase at Rayak, in Baalbek and Hermel.

In 1981 the Syrian forces fought the Battle of Zahleh. R.D. Mclaurin wrote '..At the height of the battle, several Syrian Army units, totalling about 20,000 troops, were within an area 10–20 km around Zahleh.'[3] These units included the 35th and 41st Brigades (Special Forces), 47th and 62nd Brigade (Mechanised Infantry), 51st Brigade (Ind. Armoured), and 67th Brigade, of which the last was along the border with Syria, southwest of Medina Sinaia. In June 1982, a year after Israel invaded and occupied Southern Lebanon during the 1982 Lebanon War, the Lebanese government failed to extend the ADF's mandate, thereby effectively ending its existence, although not the Syrian or Israeli military presence in Lebanon. Eventually the Syrian presence became known as the Syrian occupation of Lebanon.


  1. Alexander Orakhelashvili, Collective Security, Oxford University Press, June 2011, 314.
  2. Robert Fisk, 'Pity the Nation: Lebanon at War,' Oxford University Press, 2001, 187, see also 203.
  3. Mclaurin, R.D (1986). The battle of Zahle (Technical memorandum 8-86). MD: U.S Army Human Engineering Laboratory, 11.


  • Claudio Lo Jacono, "L’intervento della Siria in Libano", in: Oriente Moderno, LVI, 1976, pp. 379–399. ["The intervention of Syria in Lebanon", in: Modern East.]

Further reading

  • J-P Issele, 'The Arab Deterrent Force in Lebanon, 1976-1983,' in A. Cassese, 'The Current Legal Regulation of the Use of Force,' Leiden: Nijhoff, 1986, 179 at 186-7.
  • Istvan Pogany, The Arab League and Peacekeeping in the Lebanon, Palgrave Macmillan (December 1987), ISBN 0-312-00782-5, ISBN 978-0-312-00782-9.

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