The government of President Elias Hrawi moved Monday to reunify Beirut by dismantling the Green Line that has long split the Lebanese capital into Moslem and Christian sectors.
The army command of Gen. Emile Lahoud ordered military police to stop lawlessness by some leftist and Moslem militias that moved into the enclave of defeated Gen. Michel Aoun in the Christian heartland outside the city.Syrian and Lebanese troops crushed Aoun's 11-month mutiny in an air-and-ground assault Saturday that left 160 people dead and more than 800 wounded. Aoun took refuge in the French Embassy.
Aoun, 55, remained in the French Embassy on Monday while Lebanon and France argued over French efforts to move him to exile in France. France has been the traditional protector of Lebanon's Christians.
Hrawi's government said it would not allow Aoun's departure until he faces charges including the theft of $75 million from the state treasury.
Lebanese army engineering units started dismantling mines from earth mounds along the five-mile Green Line, which stretches from Beirut Port to the foothills of the central mountains in the southeast.
The Green Line has divided Beirut into Moslem and Christian sectors since the outbreak of the civil war 15 years ago.
It also was dismantled in the early days of former President Amin Gemayel's term in office, which started in September 1982, and the capital was reunited for 16 months.
However, Moslem and leftist gunmen regained their positions along the same line when they ousted Gemayel's Christian-led army from Beirut's Moslem sector in a bloody confrontation in February 1984.
A police spokesman said bulldozers would remove earth mounds and other barricades along the Green Line after the army eliminated the mines.
The line is expected to be totally dismantled in a week or so, the police spokesman said.
Dismantling it would be the first step by the government to achieve the creation of a militia-free "greater Beirut."
The target is an area extending 22 miles along the Mediterranean coast from the Dog River in the north to the Damour River in the south and covering the capital's immediate suburbs at the foothills of the central mountain range in the east.
Security sources said Syrian soldiers were questioning at least six of Aoun's top lieutenants at the Lebanese Defense Ministry.