TEL AVIV (Jun. 21)
An Israeli patrol captured five high-ranking Syrian Army officers and a Lebanese Army officer in a clash inside Fatahland today as Israeli planes and artillery pounded terrorist bases in the area. The ground action occurred near the village of Ramiyah where the Israeli patrol came across a convoy in which the Syrian officers were riding under a Lebanese Army escort. Two Israeli soldiers were slightly wounded. One Syrian officer was wounded and hospitalized and several Lebanese soldiers and border police were wounded.
The renewed Israeli actions against terrorist bases followed yesterday’s bazooka attack on a tourist bus in which two Israelis were wounded. Two Israeli soldiers were injured by an anti-personnel mine in the same region yesterday and it was disclosed today that two others were wounded by sniper fire from Fatahland Monday. (Israel lodged a formal protest with the UN Security Council yesterday over the upsurge of terrorist activity from Lebanon.)
Israeli officers admitted they were surprised to find Syrian officers traveling under Lebanese escort in the border region on what was apparently a joint Syrian-Lebanese reconnaissance mission against Israel. All of the Syrian officers belong to the operations section of Syrian General Headquarters and Air force intelligence. The captured Lebanese is also an intelligence officer.
The Syrians were identified as Cols. Adham Alouani, Radwan Aloush and Nazir Jerrakh and Lt. Cols. Rafiq Surbajji and Walid Abassi. The Lebanese officer is Capt. George Nassif of the Lebanese General Staff intelligence branch. Israeli sources said the capture of the Syrians might improve chances for an eventual prisoner exchange with Damascus. Israel has been trying to arrange an exchange of 39 Syrian soldiers held in an Israeli POW camp for three Israeli pilots in Syrian hands since April and June, 1970. The Syrians so far have refused.
Israel Air Force planes attacked terrorist bases and concentrations in the Hasbayeh area today and returned safely to their bases. Israeli artillery shelled terrorist strong points near Djebel Binii, about five miles inside Lebanese territory. The Lebanese border had been relatively quiet since Feb. 25 when Israeli air and ground forces carried out a series of attacks on terrorist bases over a period of three days.