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Seaborne Israeli Troops Strike Near Sidon, Kill 6 Militiamen

July 28, 1987|Associated Press

SIDON, Lebanon — Seaborne Israeli troops armed with rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns ambushed a patrol of Muslim militiamen near this port city, killing at least six of them, police and Israeli officials said Monday.

Lebanese police said the raiders landed in rubber dinghies on a beach south of Sidon shortly before midnight Sunday and ambushed a jeep-mounted patrol of the leftist, Syrian-backed Popular Liberation Army militia.

The attackers, who numbered between 30 and 40, fired four rocket-propelled grenades and raked the patrol's two jeeps with machine-gun fire at a highway bridge near Sidon's southern entrance, then rode the dinghies back to waiting gunboats, police said.

Two Israeli gunboats shelled areas near the ambush scene as the raiders escaped under parachute flares dropped by Israeli helicopter gunships, police said. A military spokesman in Jerusalem said there were no Israeli casualties.

It was Israel's deepest ground penetration of southern Lebanon since it withdrew the bulk of its occupation army in June, 1985 after a three-year occupation.

He said, without elaboration, that the operation was part of a series of actions taken by the army to prevent terrorist attacks in southern Lebanon, where Israel maintains a self-proclaimed security zone above its northern frontier.

Sidon is 35 miles north of the Israeli border and 25 miles south of Beirut. The Popular Liberation Army is the paramilitary arm of the Nasserite Popular Organization, a Sunni Muslim leftist faction that has ruled Sidon since the 1975 outbreak of Lebanon's Muslim-Christian civil war and has been supported by the Palestine Liberation Organization.

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