890d.00/422: Telegram

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

French army executed elaborately planned attack on the rebels in the Ghouta region around Damascus on July 20th with the object of striking decisive blow against the rebellion in that area. Seven thousand troops divided into five columns were employed in an encircling movement supported by heavy artillery from Damascus batteries and by aeroplanes. … I am informed … that the movement failed in its object. The French casualties seem to have been greater than those of the armed forces of the rebels who still dominate the Ghouta. It is estimated that 15,000 noncombatant villagers were killed and wounded during the bombardment and by troops on return march to Damascus. Damascus region is now the chief theatre of the rebellion. [Page 153] Only a small percentage of the armed forces of the Druses have submitted and hostile bands are still operating in several other sections of the country. Train communication interrupted between Beirut and Damascus for several days last week, and attack on one train resulted in 20 casualties including military and civilian passengers. Tourists should continue to be advised to avoid this country.