BEIRUT — Syria on Monday rejected as "out of the question" Iranian involvement in a military force that would enter Beirut's southern slums to end 18 days of fighting between Shia Muslim factions, Lebanese officials said.
Fighting raged in the slums Monday. Mortars and howitzers pounded the 16 square miles of cement shanties and narrow alleyways, killing 13 people and wounding 78, police said.
The officials said Syria's rejection of the Iranian proposal was conveyed by Syria's military intelligence chief in Beirut, Brig. Gen. Ali Hammoud, at a six-hour meeting with Iran's deputy foreign minister, Hussein Sheikholeslam, that ended at dawn Monday.
Representatives of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, or Party of God, and the pro-Syrian Amal militia also attended the overnight meeting.
Death Toll Put at 279
Monday's casualties raised the toll to 279 killed and 951 wounded since battles for control of the slums broke out May 6 between Hezbollah and Amal.