WORLD : France Cuts Naval Force Headed for Lebanon, Slows Its Advance

From Times wire services

France reduced its naval force heading toward Lebanon, and the warships appeared to slow their advance today as they cruised less than 200 miles from the Lebanese coast, far out of range of hostile Syrian and Muslim militia artillery.

The Syrian-backed Muslim forces have threatened to fire on the French ships and to stage retaliatory attacks inside France if the naval force intervenes to help Christian forces in Lebanon's civil war.

In Paris, French Defense Minister Jean-Pierre Chevenement said the eight-ship French fleet was reduced to six ships, leaving the aircraft carrier Foch, two oil tankers, two frigates and a landing ship off the coast of Lebanon. Government sources said only five ships are still headed for Lebanon.

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