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Lebanon seeks buffer for vacuum

Lebanon has asked four Western countries to send a buffer force to the mountains near Beirut to check any Syrian advance into positions abandoned by Israel on Sunday, a source at the presidential palace said Wednesday. The source said the request was put to the United States, France, Italy, and Britain, which are providing 5,400 troops for a Beirut peace force. In Syria, President Hafez Assad met US envoy Robert McFarlane to discuss a cease-fire between warring factions in Lebanon. No details of the talks were released.

Meanwhile, French Super Etendard warplanes attacked Druze Muslim positions in the mountains east of Beirut in retaliation for an artillery assault on the French Embassy compound that killed a French officer and his driver and wounded seven others, a Lebanese Army spokesman said. The French Embassy, however, said unarmed French reconnaissance planes only surveyed the area and did not attack.

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Druze gunners rained shells on Beirut and Palestinian guerrillas joined the Druze militia in the mountains to the east for a major assault on the capital's southern suburbs, Lebanese officials said. Elsewhere, at least six people were killed and 27 wounded when a car bomb destroyed a west Beirut building near the headquarters of the leftist Muslim Murabitoun militia, state-run Beirut radio reported.

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