BEIRUT, Lebanon — Fierce clashes broke out on Sunday in the mountains east of Beirut between supporters of the Western-backed government and followers of Hezbollah, the militant group backed by Iran.
The fighting, in the Chouf and Aley districts in the mountains overlooking the capital, Beirut, followed overnight clashes in the northern city of Tripoli that left at least two people dead and five wounded, according to security officials.
Beirut, where there had been heavy fighting between Sunnis and Shiites since Wednesday, was calm on Sunday. Hezbollah and its allies began withdrawing their gunmen from the capital on Saturday evening, raising hopes for a truce after four days of street battles there.
But with the underlying political crisis still unresolved, the worst violence since Lebanon’s 15-year civil war ended in 1990 seems to have shifted to the eastern villages.
Security officials put the toll of five days of fighting at 44 dead and 128 wounded.
Hezbollah’s military dominance, and its continuing blockade of the road to the Beirut’s airport, have raised pressure on the governing coalition to accept a resolution of Lebanon’s 17-month political crisis on terms favorable to Hezbollah and its allies in the opposition.
Supporters of the Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, who is allied with the government, and Hezbollah gunmen and their Druze allies exchanged machine gun fire and rockets in several villages, a day after Hezbollah accused Mr. Jumblatt’s followers of killing two of its members and kidnapping a third. There was no word on casualties.
Several hours after the clashes erupted, Mr. Jumblatt urged Talal Arslan, a rival Druze leader allied with Hezbollah, to mediate an end to the mountain clashes and to allow the safe deployment of the Lebanese Army in villages where there was heavy fighting.
Mr. Arslan agreed to a cease-fire, but sporadic fighting continued on Sunday night.
“I tell my supporters that civil peace, coexistence and stopping war and destruction are more important than any other consideration,”? Mr. Jumblatt said in a brief television interview.
In Beirut, Lebanese Army troops patrolled the streets, setting up roadblocks and taking positions after Hezbollah fighters pulled back from areas they had seized on Friday.
However many streets in western Beirut remained blocked by opposition supporters, including those leading to the airport.
Hezbollah had agreed Saturday evening to withdraw its militants from the streets after the government said it would reconsider a decision it made last week to challenge the group’s private telephone network.
The government and the Hezbollah-led opposition have been locked in a stalemate that has prevented the election of a president, leaving the country without one since November.
Hezbollah vowed to continue what it called a civil disobedience campaign, including blocking the airport road, until the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora officially rescinded the decision on the telephone network and a solution to the political crisis was reached through dialogue.
A government spokesperson said Sunday that the cabinet would meet in the next two days to discuss an exit for the crisis.
At noon, Mr. Siniora and some of his ministers and staff members held a moment of silence at the government building in honor of those killed during the fighting.
In Cairo, Arab foreign ministers issued a statement after an emergency meeting called by Egypt and Saudi Arabia urging an immediate cease-fire. They also condemned Hezbollah’s use of weapons against the Lebanese and said they would send a delegation to Beirut on Monday, led by Qatar, to try to end the violence.
Walid Mouallem, the foreign minister of Syria, which backs Hezbollah, did not attend the meeting.