Pact Signed to End Beirut Camp Battle
Leaders of warring Shia Muslim and Palestinian forces late Monday signed a Syrian-sponsored peace accord aimed at ending the bloody, monthlong battle for control of three Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut, Syrian officials announced.
The 13-point accord was signed by representatives of the Lebanese Shia militia Amal and the Palestine National Salvation Front during a meeting with Syrian Vice President Abdel-Halim Khaddam, the Syrians said.
The National Salvation Front represents Palestinian factions opposed to Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat. There was no word on how pro-Arafat forces would respond.
There was also no immediate reaction from encircled Palestinian guerrillas, who have vowed not to surrender their weapons. They are still entrenched in the Chatilla and Borj el Brajne camps on the southern outskirts of Beirut.
Druze warlord Walid Jumblatt, leader of Lebanon’s Progressive Socialist Party, also signed the agreement. His militia, although a traditional ally of Amal, permitted Palestinians to fire rockets at Shia positions from Druze-held hills around Beirut during the battle for the camps.
By police count, almost 600 people have been killed and at least 2,366 wounded since Shia forces attacked the camps May 19 to prevent the PLO from rebuilding the power base it lost in Lebanon during the 1982 Israeli invasion. The Shias reportedly feared that a revival of PLO operations would lead to further Israeli attacks.
The accord signed Monday by the Palestinians, Amal and the Druze reportedly includes:
--The withdrawal of Amal militiamen and the Lebanese army’s mainly Shia 6th Brigade from the Sabra, Chatilla and Borj el Brajne refugee camps.
--The evacuation of casualties from the camps and the return of homeless Palestinians.
--The release of all detainees.
--The removal of heavy and medium weapons from the Beirut camps.
The agreement says Lebanese internal security forces will be in charge of security in the camps and will maintain police posts there. Amal had demanded that the 6th Brigade have full control of the camps, but this was rejected by the Palestinians.
The peace agreement says any security arrangements for Lebanese areas will also apply to Palestinian camps.
The accord also calls for the deployment of Lebanese army troops of the predominantly Muslim 12th Brigade along the coastal highway linking Beirut with Tripoli to the north and Sidon to the south, the officials said.