890d.00/243: Telegram

The Consul at Beirut (Knabenshue) to the Secretary of State

Following from Keeley:

“November 3, 11 p.m. Despite official French communiqué to the effect that, except southeast of Damascus where a small band has been dispersed by French cavalry, complete calm reigns in all other parts of Syria, I consider that the situation generally in this district becomes more serious daily. Rebel forces reliably estimated at 3,000 reported to be advancing on Damascus. Bombs dropping from aeroplanes plainly visible from the consulate roof and gunfire distinctly heard for some time during battle this afternoon between the rebels and a French detachment about 5 miles east of Damascus. French forces insufficient to subdue rebels, who easily elude small detachment sent after them. French are destroying all villages the inhabitants [Page 118] of which do not themselves drive off bandits, which tactics steadily increase number of the enemy. …

It is reported reliably that all territory in this district except principal town on the railroad now in hands of the rebels. It is impossible to communicate with naturalized American citizens residing in troubled areas and I fear that some of them may be in danger and in distress.

Inhabitants of Damascus panic stricken, thousands trying to leave daily, food becoming scarce, cost of living rising, business dead.”

Reports from reasonably reliable sources indicate that a Druse force of 4,000 to 6,000 has reached a point about 35 kilometers from Damascus. Keeley has just telephoned that the railroad between Damascus and Deraa is reported to be cut. Above telegram sent also to Paris.