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Spaniards Leaving; Three Lebanese Killed in Shelling

July 19, 1989

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ Sectarian battles in Beirut and south Lebanon killed three people and wounded seven Wednesday, and a Spanish diplomat said 34 of his countrymen will be evacuated because of the danger of random shelling.

One person was killed and four were wounded in artillery duels between Christian and Syrian forces in Beirut, police said. Two others were killed and three wounded in artillery battles between rival militias in south Lebanon, they said.

The Spaniards, who were said to be all those remaining in Lebanon apart from diplomats, were leaving overnight from the Christian port of Jounieh, north of Beirut, and will go to Cyprus, said a Spanish diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Most of those departing said they were glad to be leaving but said they want to return if the fighting eases.

″We’ll always have the hope of returning to Lebanon,″ said one of the Spaniards, Rosa Marco Moreno.

Spanish Ambassador Pedro Manuel de Aristegui was killed April 16 when a Syrian mortar round hit his home in Christian east Beirut during shelling duels between the Syrians and troops loyal to Christian army commander Gen. Michel Aoun.

The embassy, under Charge d’Affaires Norberto Ferrer, will maintain its reduced staff, the diplomat said. He did not say how many diplomats remain.

Most Western embassies are operating on reduced staffs located in the Christian enclave northeast of Beirut.

The U.S. Embassy cut its personnel to fewer than a dozen shortly after the battles between Aoun and the Syrians broke out March 8.

There has been no organized evacuation of foreigners recently, but the U.S. and British embassies have called on their citizens to leave Lebanon because of the Beirut fighting.

The battles have killed 420 people and wounded 1,692.

The fighting began after Aoun, who also leads the Christian half of this country’s divided government, tried to block Moslem-run ports and later vowed to drive the Syrians out of Lebanon.

About 40,000 Syrian troops are here under a 1976 Arab League peacekeeping mandate.

Syrian gunners again shelled Christian ports north of Beirut on Wednesday, while Aoun’s forces shot at Syrian artillery emplacements in Moslem west Beirut, police said.

In south Lebanon, police reported fierce exchanges of howitzer and rocket fire between Israeli-backed militiamen of the South Lebanon Army and guerrillas of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, or Party of God.

The police spokesman said the casualties occurred when South Lebanon Army gunners pounded the Hezbollah-controlled villages in the western Bekaa Valley.

The barrage scored several direct hits on a Syrian army outpost in an abandoned government school in Mashgara, the spokesman reported. He said it was not known if there were any casualties there.

The spokesman said Hezbollah responded with salvos of 107mm rockets fired at the mountain town of Jezzine and surrounding hamlets. The South Lebanon Army controls that town.

There was no report of casualties there.

Update hourly