Concern over New Syrian Attacks on Christian Community in Lebanon
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Concern over New Syrian Attacks on Christian Community in Lebanon

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The Cabinet met in special session this morning to hear the latest reports on the situation in Lebanon as military observers here warned that a new wave of Syrian attacks on Christian strongholds in Beirut seemed likely. The Cabinet issued no communique but informed sources said the Lebanese situation was the main item on the agenda. Chief of Staff Gen. Rafael Eytan and Gen. Shlomo Gazit, chief of military intelligence, were seen leaving the meeting and are believed to have briefed the Cabinet.

Concern mounted over a new outbreak of fighting in Lebanon despite the cease-fire that has been in effect less than a week and the international pressure on Syria. Israelis are most disturbed by indications that the Syrians are planning to put Palestinians into the front line against the Christians.

Earlier this week, they deployed two Palestinian Liberation Army brigades, totalling several thousand men armed with anti-tank weapons and rockets, around Beirut. The Palestinian units are poorly disciplined, a factor that could lead to breaches of the shaky cease-fire and bring about renewed clashes between Palestinians, supported by Lebanese Moslem leftists, and the Christian militia. It was just such a confrontation that escalated into all-out civil war in Lebanon two years ago.

Israeli sources said the installation of Palestinian troops around Beirut might also indicate that the Syrians are anxious to reduce their involvement in Lebanon and re-group their forces in light of a probable Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty by the end of the year. Some senior military officers here believe President Hafez Assad of Syria is convinced that he cannot lead the Arab rejectionist front as long as the Lebanese crisis has not been solved.

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