Fady Frem, the commander of the Christian Phalangist militia, called today for an international inquiry into reports of massacres of Christians in Lebanon's central mountains following victories by Druze militiamen and their allies in the bloody fighting there.
The Phalangists' Lebanese Forces militia estimated that 211 Christians in nine mountain villages have been murdered during the past two weeks. It said more than 141 others are missing. Frem denied Druze charges that Phalangists had massacred Druze villagers.
Frem's appeal for an international inquiry came on the eve of the anniversary of last year's massacres of hundreds of civilians at the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut. Journalists and Israel's Kahan Commission both established that the Phalangist militia committed those killings.
Today Frem asked that the U.S. marines and other troops in the multinational peace-keeping force intervene to stop the massacres. "That's why they came here," he said.
As the militia commander spoke at the Phalangist headquarters here, emotional Christian villagers displaced in the mountain battles marched through the streets and into the military compound. They carried a long white banner that referred to mid-19th century Christian-Druze battles in the mountains during which Napoleon III sent French troops to stop the battles: "16,500 Christians massacred in 1860. Will it be the same in 1983?"
A gray-haired woman marching with them wailed and pounded her fists against her head, much as Palestinian women in the refugee camps did last year.
For the formerly cocksure Phalangist militiamen, the new defeat in the mountains appeared to have had a chastening effect that was evident in their faces. But the militia commander said the Phalangist forces do not intend to disband, as many Moslems hope. He said the militia was still needed to stave off the "Soviet-Syrian" drive to destabilize Lebanon and topple the regime of Maronite Christian President Amin Gemayel.
The Army and the militia are "fighting the same enemy," Frem said. Although both are operating independently, there is "tactical coordination" between Army and militia officers, he said.