Rebel Gen. Michel Aoun, surrounded in the presidential palace by a human shield of supporters, vowed Friday to die fighting if the Syrian army attacked his enclave.

The Syrians overnight moved thousands of troops and dozens of tank columns to the major entrances of Aoun's territory in what a Lebanese government official said was "another step in the march to end Aoun's mutiny."Syria's troops support the government of President Elias Hrawi, who is trying to end 15 years of civil war. An official in Hrawi's administration said Syrian and Lebanese government troops would attack if a French mediation attempt failed, but he did not set a deadline.