TEL AVIV (Feb. 4)
Heavy artillery exchanges continued along the Syrian front today for the ninth consecutive day as unconfirmed reports appeared that U.S. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger would go to Damascus this week to try to further Israeli-Syrian disengagement talks. (See separate story.) Syria’s Foreign Minister Abdel Halim Khadam was quoted as saying yesterday that his country was waging a war of attrition against Israel intended to “paralyze” the Israeli economy by forcing Jerusalem to keep its armed forces in a high state of mobilization.
Military clashes on the Syrian front during the past two days were said to be the heaviest since the Yom Kippur War. A military spokesman said that Israeli tanks and heavy artillery were thrown into the battle this morning after the Syrians opened fire with artillery, mortars and re-coiless cannon all along the Golan Heights lines. The shooting was described as intermittant and sporadic, diminishing on one sector of the front only to flare up on another.
Israeli tanks hit and set fire to four Syrian armored troop carriers and also scored hits on a number of Syrian trucks today. A military spokesman said the Syrians were seen removing casualties. Israeli artillery also pounded Syrian artillery positions deep behind the Syrian lines, a military spokesman said. He said there were no Israeli casualties. The Syrians reportedly started shooting early this morning but later agreed to a cease-fire call by United Nations observers after taking a severe battering by Israeli return fire. But the cease-fire lasted only two hours and the shelling was resumed at noon. Israeli artillery went into action immediately afterwards.