Syria claimed victory today following Israel's declaration of a cease-fire that ended battles with Syrian forces in Lebanon. The truce held for a second day.
In a review of the Israeli-Syrian fighting that followed Israel's invasion of Lebanon, Syria's state-run television tonight said the outcome had served the Arab cause.
Syria celebrated today what one officially controlled newspaper called "a magnificent record of Syrian courage and sacrifices calling for pride and respect." Garlanded military vehicles drove triumphantly around the capital.
The official news media stressed what the government claimed were heavy Israeli losses against Syrian forces, which it said had "shattered Israel's plans and objectives."
A Syrian military communique claimed that before the cease-fire took effect yesterday, Syrian forces in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley repelled Israeli tanks and mechanized divisions backed by air power. It said a counterattack drove the Israelis back six miles and destroyed 30 Israeli tanks and three Hawk antiaircraft missiles.
The communique said Syria's actions "confirm its role as the army and defender of the Arab people."
No clarification was offered of Syria's acceptance of the cease-fire with Israel "on the basis of a complete Israeli withdrawal from Lebanese territory." A Syrian government spokesman declined comment on whether Damascus had any time frame for the withdrawal.
The Damascus government today seemed to play down the fighting between Israeli forces and the Palestinians that was ended at nightfall with a cease-fire declaration.
Yesterday, Israel had declared that the cease-fire with Syria did not apply to its battle against Palestinian guerrillas and had put the Syrians in the awkward position of appearing to ditch an ally.
Old rivalries cropped up in what had appeared to be Arab unity in condemning the Israeli invasion.
A flap developed with neighboring Jordan over a volunteer force sent to fight alongside the Palestinians.
Jordan said Syrian authorities turned back the volunteers at the Syrian border yesterday rather than allow them to travel to Lebanon. But Syria claimed Jordan had held the volunteers back. The two countries are at odds over the Iranian-Iraqi war, with Damascus backing Iran and Amman siding with Iraq.
Iran asked that Baghdad authorities allow an Iranian force to move through Iraq to join the fighting in Lebanon. Iraq had made permission conditional on Iranian agreement to a cease-fire declared by Iraq.
In each case, diplomatic observers here said, sending volunteers appeared intended more to embarrass a rival than to aid the Palestinians.