Christian army units and Syrian-backed Druse militiamen fought fierce artillery battles in the hills overlooking Beirut early Wednesday amid a growing international outcry for an end to the bloodshed.

Police said army troops in the strategic hilltop village of Souk El Gharb, seven miles southeast of Beirut, battled Moslem Druse militiamen positioned in nearby hills controlled by Syrian troops.The warring sides also pounded several Christian and Moslem villages and towns to the east and north of Beirut as well as the capital's southern suburbs, police said.