JERUSALEM (Dec. 17)
Defense Minister Shimon Peres estimated today that there were 3000 Soviet troops in Syria, some of them manning Syrian positions, though he could not say how many. Replying to questions in the Knesset, the Defense Minister said some Soviet troops served in anti-aircraft missile systems near Damascus and operated electronic air defense systems in other parts of Syria,
According to Peres, the Russians supplied Syria during the Yom Kippur War and afterwards with more than 1000 tanks, many of the T-62 type; 300 jets, including 50 of the new MIG-23s; and missiles, including surface-to-surface “Skud” missiles reportedly capable of reaching Israel’s three largest cities.
Peres reported that Egypt recently received a shipment of Mirage jets directly from France for the first time rather than through another Arab state as was the case when the French arms embargo on the Middle East was in effect. He said the French shipment included three interceptors of the Mirage 3-C type. Peres also reported that Egypt was due to receive 36 Mirages altogether as part of a tripartite transaction signed by King Faisal of Saudi Arabia on his visit to France several months ago. The transaction will be completed in two years, Peres said