The few residents of Beirut's Ashrafiyeh district who ventured out of their homes yesterday picked their way nervously along streets strewn with broken glass and rubble.
The intense shelling from Syrian tanks, artillery and rocket batteries had stopped. Only the sound of light automatic weapons fire occasionally crackled through the air.
"Don't go down that road. There are Syrian snipers in a building at the Place des Cannons," one rresident warned a visitor.
A week after fierce fighting broke out between Syrian peace-keeping troops and rightist Christian militias, the tension in the mainly Christian east side of Beirut was still almost unbearable. An undeclared cease-fire was supposedly in effect but there had already been too many of them and too many people had died.
Each side accused the other of breaking the cease-fire by snipping. A Syrian spokesman said Christian militias had fired 40 mortars at Syrian positions since Thursday wounding six soldiers. The spokesman said Syrian troops were "Abiding by orders not to return fire."
A Christian militia officer cursed the statement. He was waiting in an East Beirut's Hotel Dieu Hospital while another militia man underwent emergency surgery for three bullet wounds.
"He was shot by Syrian snippers even though there is supposed to be a cease-fire," the officer fumed. "They're not an army, they're a bunch of assassins."
Like the Syrian spokesman, he claimed his men were following orders not to fire.
Nevertheless, the sporadic shooting goes on, slowly raising the casualty toll despite the relative quiet that has prevailed since the heavy shelling stopped Thursday morning.
Of 200 people believed killed since the fighting started, 17 were gunned down Thursday by Syrian snippers at a single bridge, according to rightists. The victims, including one family of four, were trying to get out of East Beirut.
The rightist newspaper, Le Reveil described it as one of three "bridges of death" where another 125 people have been wounded by sniper fire since the beginning of the week.
But the shattered residential building in Beirut's Christian districts testify even more forcefully than death tolls to the terror experienced by their residents.
During six days of intermittent shelling, nearly every building in once-propserous Ashrafiyeh has been at least pock marked by shrapnel or machinegun fire and many are scarred with gaping shell holes and blackened by fires. In some buildings, entire floors have collpased under repeated direct hits.
The difference from even a few days ago is striking. The attack that did the most damage came Wednesday night when the Syrians unleashed a 7 hour barrage of almost every type of ground fire.
Residents said the resulting destruction was greater than that suffered in their districts during all of Lebanon's 1975-76 civil war betwwen Christian rightists and a Moslem-Icftist alliance.
All three major hospitals in East Beirut were also hit by artillery and rockets in the days and nights of shelling.
In the Hotel Dieu Hospital, wounded civilians and militiamen lay on beds placed in the corridors in case of new shelling.
The bed of Joseph Ghanem, 30, a Christian laboratory worker, stood right in front of the hospital's admissions office. He was wounded three nights ago when a shell struck his nearby apartment.
The director of the church-run Getaawi hospital. Sister Marguerite Marie Massound, said the hospital building had been hit repeatedly by shells, causing one death and wounding several people.
About 30 yards from the hospital, every floor of a six story apartment building was smashed or gutted by shellfire.
"Two children were killed by explosions in that building and another one was burned to death," Sister Marguerite said.
Yesterday the few groceries or bakeries open on the east side had lines of nervous buyers in front of them. Residents in some areas also must deal with the cut-off of water, electricity and telephones.
Because of sniper fire, the few cars that are still running try daringly to negotiate Beirut's narrow streets. Fewer still venture between East and predominantly Moslem West Beirut, where life goes on fairly normally.
Residents on both sides are expecting more trouble and hundreds if not thousands of people are trying to leave. The airport located southwest of the city is jammed with waiting passengers and all flights out are fully booked.