Syria Re-enforcing Border Positions

Israeli military sources reported yesterday that Syria was re-enforcing its military positions along the Israeli border but that this was no cause for concern. The Beirut newspaper An Nahar reported that Syria cancelled all leaves and placed its armed forces on an alert. According to terrorist sources, an Israeli attack on Syria was expected in the next 24-48 hours.

The Israeli sources said Syria need not fear that Israel would violate the cease-fire and noted that the deployment of Syrian troops along the southern border where the climate is milder was a routine practice of the Syrians every winter.

The Beirut newspaper, al Bayraq, quoted Syrian President Hafez Assad yesterday as having said that he unilaterally ordered the reopening of Syria’s border with Jordan last Friday as an invitation to Jordan to “take part in the battle of liberation” against Israel. The Syrian-Jordan frontier was closed in July, 1971, after King Hussein’s armies ousted the Palestinian terrorists in bloody battles that forced them to take refuge in Syria and on the West Bank.

ACCUSED OF BEING ISRAELI-AGENTS

Assad was reported to have explained that he reopened the border “so it may not be said that the closure “was preventing Jordan from participating in the big battle” against Israel. There were no indications from Amman, however, that Hussein was considering reactivating joint military operations with his Syrian neighbors. Some Israeli sources interpreted the reopening of the border as a blow to the terrorists and claimed that Syria seemed to be taking “a more realistic approach.”

Jordanian leaders and newspapers, meanwhile, have accused Arab traders from the West Bank of being “Israeli agents.” That was the response in Amman to the West Bankers’ objections to a new Jordanian tax on goods crossing the Jordan from the West Bank. A delegation from Nablus that just returned from Amman said they were told by Jordan’s Foreign Minister that they were serving Israel’s interests.

They said he told them, “You export goods to us, get for them sterling and dinars, then you deposit these amounts in your West Bank banks and receive pieces of paper called Israeli pounds.” The Jordanian attitude has aroused concern among West Bank Merchants who plan to call a meeting to discuss remedies to the situation.

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