Rebellious Druze militiamen sniped at Lebanese Army vehicles passing near their area this morning but for the most part Lebanon returned to one of its intermittent states of precarious calm.
Leaders of the Druze, whose militia had shelled Beirut International Airport during the past two days and shut it down, proposed today that it be reopened and declared a neutral zone in the still-unresolved conflict between the Druze, an offshoot Moslem sect, and the government of Lebanese President Amin Gemayel.
Army spokesmen reported today that 52 soldiers captured by Druze militia in the two days of fighting had been released, although their weapons and some heavy armor and ammunition had been seized. Two Lebanese soldiers were killed and 26 wounded in fighting in the mountains south of the capital on Wednesday and Thursday, the spokesmen said.
Besides attacking the Army, the Druze shelled the airport, U.S. Marine positions and areas near the Lebanese Defense Ministry and presidential palace. They also seized three Cabinet ministers Wednesday evening but released them after negotiations yesterday.
The crisis of authority for the Gemayel government, propped up by a multinational peace-keeping force and tenuously controlling only the capital and its suburbs, had caused strong concern among the populace here.
But even more troubling for many residents and visitors was the closing of the airport, the means of escape from an unstable and frequently violent country, that is mostly under the control of troops of Syria, Israel and various local militia.
The special U.S. envoy, Robert C. McFarlane, met today with Lebanese government officials and returned later to Israel in his effort to achieve a withdrawal of foreign troops from Lebanon.