Pro-Syrian Lebanese troops surrounded the French Embassy Tuesday after France vowed not to surrender deposed rebel Christian Gen. Michel Aoun for trial.
Dozens of regulars loyal to President Elias Hrawi set up checkpoints at intersections around the hilltop embassy on the eastern outskirts of Beirut, effectively cordoning off the building.French guards, who laid mines along the barbed-wire fence of the embassy and the nearby residence of French Ambassador Rene Ala, were put on maximum alert.
One tank, manned by Hrawi's troops, sat only 100 yards from the French mission's building as a number of Lebanese troops took positions atop nearby apartment buildings Tuesday morning. Later in the day they withdrew from the rooftops but remained stationed at the checkpoints.
The soldiers converged on the embassy as the French and Lebanese governments disputed the fate of Aoun and his advisers taking refuge at the mission.
Aoun and his advisers were ousted Saturday when a Lebanese-Syrian military force pushed into Christian east Beirut and captured the presidential palace in Baabda, five miles southeast of the Lebanese capital.
The muscle-flexing maneuvers around the embassy were carried out as the French ambassador spoke with Hrawi and Prime Minister Selim Hoss as part of French efforts to secure a safe exit for Aoun.
Aoun remained stranded at the embassy for the fourth straight day Tuesday.
The ousted military officers had challenged Hrawi, who became president as a result of a peace treaty designed to end the 15-year-old civil war. The accord was worked out by the Lebanese Parliament in Taif, Saudi Arabia, in October 1989.
Lebanese lawmakers, in light of the defeat of Aoun, resumed constitutional activities Tuesday, re-electing Hussein Husseini as house speaker.
The session was held at the ancient Parliament building in Beirut's demolished downtown, where Moslem and Christian militiamen have fought each other since 1975.