TEL AVIV (Feb. 12)
new round in the Lebanese civil war appears to be taking shape as Syria prepared to redeploy its “peacekeeping” force despite urgent appeals by the Lebanese government to call off or delay its evacuation from the Beirut area. The Syrian moves apparently have encouraged the Palestinian terrorists to resume their attacks on the Christian enclave in south Lebanon.
Artillery exchanges continued intermittently last night and this morning between the Palestinians and the Christian militia. It was learned, meanwhile, that the heavy shelling by the Palestinians of the Christian village of Dier Memes yesterday was a cover for the infiltration of terrorists into the hamlet. The eight casualties there — four dead and four wounded– were the result of mines and booby traps planted by the infiltrators.
There was no intervention by Israel in the latest round of fighting. Nevertheless, both Syria and the Soviet Union accused Israel today of aggression and intervention in the affairs of another country. The charges were contained in a statement issued in Moscow following the visit there of the deputy secretary general of the Syrian Booth Party, Abdallah el-Ahmar.
The shelling subsided late yesterday but was resumed by the terrorists at sundown, using American-made 105 mm. cannons which were originally supplied to the Lebanese army. The Christian forces commanded by Maj. Sood Hoddad retaliated by shelling the terrorist stronghold at Nabatiyen. Lebanese Prime Minister Selim-al-Hoss telephoned President Hafez Assod of Syria last night and flew to Damascus today his second trip there in a week in a further effort to persuade the Syrians to remain in the Beirut area. The Lebanese fear that if the Syrian forces are withdrawn their positions will be taken over by Palestinians.
In south Lebanon, Syrian troops were encamped only three kilometers from Marj Ajoun, the largest Christian town, with tanks and artillery. Their presence apparently has encouraged the Palestinians to step up their attacks on the Christians.