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Lebanese civilians, fearing new outbreak of fighting, flee Beirut

Thousands of residents streamed out of east Beirut Wednesday fearing a new outbreak of the fighting between Christian factions that already has killed at least 700 people. Political sources said a three-member mediating team had run into trouble in efforts to stabilize a four-day lull in fighting between Gen. Michel Aoun's army units and Lebanese Forces militiamen led by Samir Geagea.

Geagea refused Tuesday to make concessions to Aoun or bow to the general's demand that the the Lebanon Forces lay down its arms and disband.

Civilians laden with suitcases and nylon bags fled from the battered Christian sector of the capital for Moslem west Beirut, or to the ferry escape route to Cyprus.

Both sides reinforced positions elsewhere in east Beirut and along the mountainous Keserwan frontlines to the north, where the LF set up 180-mm and 160-mm artillery batteries.