Assad Effort to End Christian Uprising Seen

March 15, 1985|CHARLES P. WALLACE | Times Staff Writer

DBAYE, Lebanon — Syrian President Hafez Assad sent a personal envoy to Lebanon on Thursday in an apparent effort to help resolve an uprising in the nation's Christian community.

Lebanon's state radio reported that Maj. Gen. Mohammed Kholi, Assad's national security adviser, met with Lebanese President Amin Gemayel in suburban Baabda.

Schools remained closed in the Christian areas of the city and its suburbs, but most shops reopened after a one-day closure because of the crisis.

On Wednesday, a Christian militia leader named Samir Geagea announced that he had seized control of a large part of the Christian heartland. The announcement came a few hours after the Christian militia, called the Lebanese Forces, had declared its independence from Gemayel's political organization, the Falangist Party.

Militia Discontent

The uprising apparently stemmed from discontent within the militia over Gemayel's policy of depending on Syria to act as the broker in negotiations with Lebanon's Muslims in talks aimed at ending the country's 10-year-old civil war.

On Thursday, militia forces loyal to Gemayel took to the streets of towns along the coastal road to Tripoli, which Geagea's forces severed just north of here Wednesday.

Geagea was reported to be massing guns and soldiers behind his barricades, but the reports could not be confirmed.

Assad phoned Gemayel on Wednesday and urged him to be "prudent and careful" in dealing with the rebellion, according to Lebanese newspapers. Kholi returned to Damascus late Thursday carrying a message from Gemayel, but the contents were not disclosed.

Geagea met with Christian leaders Thursday night under the auspices of Patriarch Mar Antonios Butros Khreish, leader of the Maronite Catholic Church, but a statement issued later indicated that no solution had been found to the political crisis.

Los Angeles Times Articles