Rival Shiite Moslem factions agreed Wednesday to end their bloody three-year power struggle, which has claimed the lives of more than 1,100 people.
Also Wednesday, the government of President Elias Hrawi announced that the four principal Moslem and Christian militias who fought a 15-year-old civil war that left 150,000 dead have agreed to move out of Beirut.Efforts to end factional fighting accelerated after Syria, with an estimated 40,000 troops in Lebanon, helped the government crush Christian Gen. Michel Aoun's 11-month-old mutiny on Oct. 13.
The two Shiite militias - the pro-Iranian Hezbollah, or Party of God, and Syrian-backed Amal - issued a joint communique saying a "comprehensive cease-fire" in their confrontation began at midnight Tuesday.
The communique said representatives of the two factions would "work out a plan for the exchange of prisoners pending the achievement of a comprehensive and final settlement (to the conflict) under the auspices of Syria and Iran."
Hezbollah is the umbrella group for kidnappers believed holding 13 Western hostages, including six Americans.
Shiite sources have said Hezbollah moved the hostages out of the south Beirut slums before the crackdown on Aoun, anticipating they would lose their strongholds in the capital as the government implemented its peace plan.
The reports could not be independently confirmed.