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Soviet Airlift of Military Hardware to Syria Appears to Have Ended

Israeli sources said today that the military state of alert in Syria is continuing but that the Soviet airlift of military hardware to that country appears to have ended about four days ago. The sources said the airlift lasted 4-5 days with 4-5 planes landing at Damascus each day. Each of the planes was capable of carrying a payload of 80 tons, the sources said.

Syrian Army units have concentrated on the Israeli border, apparently in anticipation of an Israeli attack although Israel has done nothing to give Syria grounds to fear an attack, the sources said. They denied reports from Damacus and Beirut that Israel was massing troops on the Syrian line. Correspondents were urged to visit the Golan Heights to see for themselves.

Israeli sources said they had no information as to whether the Soviet airlift to Syria was accompanied by Soviet military personnel. There are presently about 1000 Soviet military personnel stationed in Syria. A Soviet naval presence has also been observed in the Syrian ports of Latakia and Tarsus, but neither of those ports are equipped to service modern warships on a permanent basis, the Israeli sources said. The Soviet navy, however, continues to use Egyptian ports on a scale unchanged since Egypt’s ouster of Soviet military personnel last June.

Israeli sources denied today Lebanese charges that Israeli troops used gas grenades during their attacks on terrorist bases in Lebanon two weeks ago. They also denied reports from Lebanon that an Israeli tank crushed a taxi with women and children in the Lebanese village of Juwaya. They said an investigation disproved that charge but conceded that a tank ran down a car with three khaki-clad men after it ignored an order to halt.

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