Syria poured tanks and troops into Lebanon today after Christian military leader Michel Aoun defied an order from the Syrian-backed Cabinet sacking him as army commander.
Travelers on the Beirut-Damascus highway saw convoys of dozens of Syrian tanks, trucks carrying artillery batteries and armored personnel carriers entering Lebanon.
Fears of renewed fighting gripped both Christian and Muslim sectors of Beirut, with hundreds fleeing the battered capital. Streets in Muslim West Beirut were deserted, and most schools closed early.
Senior French Envoy Francois Scheer, on what a senior political source called a final mediation mission to avert bloodshed, met President Elias Hrawi at the Syrian-controlled town of Chtoura in eastern Lebanon.
Witnesses said Scheer, due to go on to Damascus, left the meeting looking grim. He refused to talk to reporters.