Six armies fought each other on three fronts in Lebanon Tuesday, closing the international airport and leaving at least 26 people dead and 115 wounded in two days of fierce clashes.
The Lebanese crisis and a possible new eruption of the civil war that tore the nation apart in 1975 and '76 were the subject of anxious talks in Beirut and Jerusalem. Lebanese President Elias Sarkis and Prime Minister Chefik Wazzan spent the day trying to arrange the 19th cease-fire this month in Beirut and Zahle.
Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin summoned his top military officials to a three-hour meeting in Jerusalem, and Deputy Defense Minister Mordechai Zippori warned that Israel might take "vigorous actions" on behalf of its Christian militia allies in south Lebanon.
In Beirut, a triangular war raged along the battered city's confrontation lines among Syrian peacekeeping troops, Christian Falangist militiamen, and Lebanese army regulars. The Falangists shelled Beirut International Airport, forcing it to close.
Although Maj. Saad Haddad, a Lebanese Army deserter, was recuperating from "exhaustion," the Israeli-backed militia he commands pressed on with its war in south Lebanon agains t Palestinian guerrillas and Lebanese Muslims.