3 Guerrillas Killed After Infiltrating From Lebanon
JERUSALEM (AP) _ Israeli soldiers shot and killed three guerrillas crossing into the country from southern Lebanon early today, the army command said.
A Palestinian guerrilla group based in Syria, the Fatah-Uprising, claimed responsibility for the abortive raid. The Israeli army said the three guerrillas intended to attack a town, but did not specify which.
An Israeli helicopter fired a wire-guided missile into a village in south Lebanon soon after the guerrillas were killed in northern Israel. A man was killed and a three-story building was damaged.
It was the third straight day of hostilities in the region, the last active Arab-Israeli war front. Radical Palestinian factions backed by Syria have vowed to wreck the Sept. 13 Israel-PLO accord by stepping up attacks from south Lebanon.
The three guerrillas, armed with a Soviet-made Kalashnikov rifle and antitank missiles, were discovered and killed by an elite Israeli force in a pre-dawn clash 10 yards inside Israel, the army said.
The guerrillas were tracked down by an army patrol that spotted their footprints left by the border fence near Kfar Ajar, at Israel’s easternmost border with Lebanon. No Israeli soldiers were injured in the clash, the army said.
Syria is Lebanon’s undisputed master with 40,000 of its troops deployed on two thirds of Lebanese soil.
Fatah-Uprising is headed by Col. Saeed Mousa, a Syrian-backed officer who led a rebellion against Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat in 1983.
Mousa’s group and nine other dissident Palestinian factions are allied with Lebanese guerrillas fighting the Israeli army in south Lebanon.
Iranian-backed guerrillas of the Hezbollah, or Party of God, staged eight grenade-hurling forays into Israel’s self-styled ″security zone″ in south Lebanon from dusk Tuesday to dawn Wednesday.
The assaults, mounted behind barrages of Katyusha rockets, were in retaliation for the death of three Hezbollah guerrillas in Israeli air raids on the group’s frontline supply bases Tuesday.
Similar tension triggered Israel’s air, sea and artillery blitz against Lebanon-based guerrillas last July.
Israel established the 440-square-mile security zone in 1985 to guard against cross-border guerrilla attacks on its northern flank.
The renewed attacks come as Syrian President Hafez Assad prepares to travel to Geneva next month for a meeting with President Clinton.
The United States hopes the talks will break the deadlock in the Syrian and Lebanese tracks of the Arab-Israeli peace talks, which began two years ago.
The peace process is opposed by radical groups which still insist on the destruction of Israel.