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Israelis Blast Guerrilla Bases in Lebanon

October 11, 1987|Associated Press

BEIRUT — Israeli jets divebombed Palestinian guerrilla bases in Lebanon near the Syrian border Saturday, and in the south, other Palestinians occupied three villages 300 yards from Israeli-backed militia positions, police said.

Police also said a car bomb explosion killed three people and wounded two Saturday in the Syrian-policed port of Tripoli.

A police spokesman said four Israeli jets bombed positions occupied by guerrillas of Col. Said Moussa's Abu Moussa Group and George Habash's Marxist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in the town of Yanta.

The raid occurred at noon about 2 1/2 miles from the Syrian border, and one guerrilla was slightly wounded, police reported.

The raid was Israel's 23rd this year against targets in Lebanon.

'Terror Bases' Struck

In Jerusalem, the Israeli army said the warplanes struck "terror bases" in the Bekaa Valley. A statement said the targets were "outside the population centers."

Syrian soldiers sealed off the area on the western edge of Yanta and prevented reporters from inspecting damage. Thick columns of smoke billowed from a hill near the town after the air strike.

By police count, 105 people have been killed and 250 wounded in Israeli air raids in Lebanon this year.

The deadliest raid was Sept. 25, when 49 people were killed and 60 were wounded in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein el Hilwa, near Sidon.

Broke With Arafat in '83

Moussa and Habash broke with Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization in 1983 and set up headquarters for their splinter groups in Damascus, Syria's capital. They also established bases in the Syrian-controlled Bekaa Valley in east Lebanon.

Arafat broke with Syrian President Hafez Assad following a Syrian-backed revolt in 1983 by Moussa and others to oust the PLO chairman.

Police said the Palestinian deployment of Arafat's mainstream Fatah faction in the abandoned Christian villages of Baissour, Mharbieh and Hassanieh began Friday. It was not apparently connected with Saturday's air raid. Police said the occupation occurred "without fighting."

The villages, six miles southeast of Sidon, are near a South Lebanese Army-held salient that juts north from Israel's self-designated border "security zone" in southern Lebanon.

It is the closest that PLO guerrillas have deployed to positions held by the 3,000-strong South Lebanon Army, an Israeli-armed militia, since the Palestinians were driven from southern Lebanon during Israel's 1982 invasion.

Mystery Withdrawal

The villages had been controlled by the Shia Muslim Amal militia of Justice Minister Nabih Berri.

Amal fighters "mysteriously withdrew Thursday, and the Palestinians moved in the following day," police said.

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