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Lebanese Army Exchanges Fire With Israelis

March 07, 1985|Associated Press

BEIRUT — Lebanese and Israeli soldiers exchanged tank and automatic weapons fire on the edge of Israel's occupation zone in southern Lebanon today, the Lebanese army command said, and Israel later reported that one of its soldiers was killed.

The Lebanese command said the Israelis pulled back after a two-hour battle.

The Israeli soldier was believed to be the first killed by the Lebanese army since Israel invaded Lebanon on June 6, 1982. The other 619 Israelis known to have died in Lebanon were killed in fighting with the Palestine Liberation Organization, in ambushes carried out by Palestinian and Lebanese guerrillas, and in accidents.

Shia Militiamen Killed

No Lebanese army casualties were reported in an announcement by the Israeli military command in Tel Aviv. But Israeli military sources there said two militiamen from the Shia Muslim Amal organization also were killed in the fighting.

Israel said its soldiers, on "routine operations," were chasing suspected guerrillas when fired upon by Lebanese army troops stationed in Kawthariet as-Sayad. "An (Israeli) soldier was killed by the fire. Our forces returned fire," the announcement added.

Maj. Zein Khalifa, commander of the Lebanese army garrison at Kawthariet as-Sayad, told reporters that he saw Israeli medics evacuating two of the occupation army's soldiers from the battleground near the village. But he said he could not tell whether the two were killed or wounded.

Kawthariet as-Sayad is just outside the Israeli front line in south Lebanon.

Screen of Tank Fire

Israeli forces advanced behind a screen of tank fire on Kawthariet as-Sayad, and Lebanese army units responded "with all available weapons," an army statement released in Beirut said.

Lebanese soldiers maintain their closest positions to the Israeli occupation force at Kawthariet as-Sayad.

At least 25 Israeli tank shells hit the village, and several houses were hit, the Lebanese army said. Reporters who reached Kawthariet as-Sayad shortly after the fighting said they were told by villagers that five people--one Lebanese soldier and four Muslim militiamen--suffered shrapnel wounds.

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