5 Killed, 9 Wounded in Israeli Air Raid
BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ Police said today that five people were killed and nine were wounded in an attack by Israeli jets on two bases of a pro-Syrian Palestinian guerrilla group in eastern Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.
Officials of rival militias ended talks in Damascus, Syria, on Sunday on ways to end Lebanon’s 10-year-old civil war.
In Beirut, police said militia fighters exchanged tank and mortar fire across the Green Line that divides the city into Christian and Moslem sectors, killing five civilians and wounding 13 other people.
Christian radio stations accused the radical Shiite Moslem Hezbollah, or Party of God, of shelling Beirut’s Christian sector to sabotage the peace negotiations. There was no comment from the fundamentalist, pro-Iranian Hezbollah. It opposes the peace talks because of the Christians’ former links with Israel.
Rescue workers wound up their search through the rubble of the two guerrilla bases bombed by Israeli air force jets on Sunday. The raid, Israel’s 13th this year against targets in Lebanon, was staged against bases of the Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.
A spokesman for that group said in a statement issued in Damascus that two guerrillas were killed, two were wounded and one was missing. The spokesman, Fadl Shrourou, also said there were an unspecified number of Lebanese civilian casualties.
Beirut police said its casualty count of five dead and nine wounded included both Palestinian guerrillas and Lebanese civilians, but did not give a breakdown.
Police said four Israel F-4 jets divebombed the two bases near the Bekaa Valley towns of Tanayel and Deir Zannoun, devastating a string of buildings and setting two ammuntion dumps ablaze.
The jets made two bombing runs, dropping crimson balloons that deflected scores of shoulder-fired heat-seeking missiles fired by guerrillas, the report said.
The Syrian army command identified the planes as U.S.-made F-14s and F-15s. It said that the Israeli planes were forced to flee under pressure from Syrian air defenses.
Israel’s military command in Tel Aviv said its warplanes scored accurate hits and returned safely from the raid five miles west of the Syrian border. Israel Radio said the popular front has been responsible for guerrilla attacks in the occupied West Bank and Israel’s ″security zone″ in southern Lebanon.
Syrian troops control eastern and northern Lebanon under a 1976 mandate from the Arab league to end the civil war. Six Syrian-backed Palestinian guerrilla factions opposed to Yasser Arafat’s leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization maintain bases behind Syrian lines.
The last Israeli air raid in Lebanon was on Sept. 26, a day after gunmen killed three Israelis aboard a hijacked yacht in Larnaca, Cyprus. On Oct. 1, Israel sent its jets on a 1,500-mile raid on the PLO headquarters in Tunisia, killing an estimated 70 people.
Sources close to the peace negotiations in Damascus said they focused on a draft dividing power equally between Christians, who have dominated Lebanon since independence from France in 1943, and Moslems.
The Shiite Moslem Amal militia, the Druse Progressive Socialist Party and the Christian Lebanese Forces militia all are taking part in the talks. Amal leader Nabih Berri also arrived in Damascus on Sunday for talks with Syrian officials.
Previous peace agreements have fallen apart because they were arranged by political leaders rather than the militias that have been fighting the civil war. Sources said Syria, which has provided arms to the Moslems and is Lebnaon’s main power broker, would guarantee the agreement.