Tripoli, Lebanon — PLO infighting rages; Lebanese talks postponed
Syrian-backed Palestinian rebels pounded the northern refugee camp of Baddawi with rocket and artillery fire Monday in a drive to oust Yasser Arafat's embattled forces from their last remaining stronghold in Lebanon, Beirut radio said.
A spokesman for the embattled Palestine Liberation Organization leader said Mr. Arafat was leading his forces against the onslaught at the Baddawi camp, but Beirut radio said he had fled to the nearby city of Tripoli. A spokesman for the Palestinian rebels said they would not pursue Arafat into Tripoli, but were determined to rout from the area all pro-Arafat fighters.
Shells and rockets from Syrian-held positions pounded Baddawi as the death toll from five days of inter-Palestinian fighting passed 200, with some reports putting the toll as high as 650. In one barrage Monday more than 60 shells and rockets struck around the Baddawi refugee camp north of Tripoli. Heavy street battles were also reported in Tripoli.
Arafat's chief lieutenant, Khalil al Wazir (Abu Jihad), told reporters in Tripoli that the rebels had made no significant advances after seizing the Nahr al Bared refugee camp on Sunday morning.
But Lebanese officials said the fight over Arafat's 14-year reign as PLO chairman was intensifying.
Meanwhile in Beirut, one Marine was wounded as Lebanese government troops clashed with Muslim Shiite militiamen in the city's southern suburbs and around the US Marine compound.
The fighting closed the city's airport as President Amin Gemayel returned from reconciliation talks in Geneva. A second session of the talks, scheduled for Geneva next Monday, has been postponed until at least Nov. 20 to allow President Gemayel more time to consult other governments. In the first round of talks, Lebanon's warring factions gave Gemayel a mandate to travel to several foreign capitals to seek ways to get Israel to withdraw from the country.