May/June 2000

Syria said training Palestinians for attacks on Israel

LONDON (May 29) - Analysts are warning of a full-scale war between Israel and Syria following revelations Palestinians are being trained at camps near Damascus for attacks on Israel from Lebanon.

Prime Minister Ehud Barak has reportedly alerted Western governments to the threat of such attacks, according to the Sunday Times of London yesterday.

He has also warned Damascus that Israel will retaliate against the 35,000 Syrian troops currently deployed in Lebanon, the paper reported.

Quoting Israeli military sources, the paper revealed that officers of the 14th Syrian commando division have been training Palestinian guerrillas at camps near Damascus.

The training is said to prepare them for cross-border attacks on Israeli military and civilian targets.

The Palestinians are also said to have been supplied with military hardware, including old Russian-made T-55 tanks.

The Syrians are believed to have created a new terrorist organization called the Izzadin Kassam Brigades.

The group has reportedly established itself in the Bekaa Valley and is thought to consist of 80 young Palestinians drawn from refugee camps.

"This new Palestinian organization consists of people who oppose Yasser Arafat's peace agreement with Israel," an Israeli military source was quoted as saying. "They will do anything they can to bring chaos back to the region by penetrating and attacking the Israeli border with Lebanon."

According to the paper, there are also fears of an attack by Hizbullah.

At the same time, the Syrians are also said to be "breathing new life" into the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Both groups are based in Damascus, both oppose Arafat's leadership, and both are opposed to any diplomatic deal with Israel.

©Jerusalem Post 2000

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