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Reports of Syrian Moderation Are Viewed with Skepticism

Political sources here viewed with skepticism today reports indicating that Syria may be turning toward a course of moderation in the Middle East conflict. According to the reports, Syria promised the U.S. that it would not move its forces into southern Lebanon. The U.S. conveyed this to Israel with its own interpretation that, for the time being, Syria has decided to forego the military option.

According to the American analysis, this could pave the way for a new interim accord with Israel on the Golan Heights or the resumption of the Geneva peace conference for an overall settlement. But the Israeli sources point out that past experience has shown that Syrian positions change rapidly, sometimes swinging to extremes.

Damascus had promised the U.S. earlier that it would not allow terrorists to re-enter southern Lebanon adjacent to the Israeli border. But reports last week said that terrorist units had in fact returned to southern Lebanon and some were said to be in occupation of villages barely three miles from the Israeli lines.

Although the extent of the terrorist movement and its implications are a matter of dispute among Israeli analysts, the fact that they were allowed to pass through Syrian lines indicated a sudden shift by Damascus from its policy of supporting Lebanese Christians to one in favor of the Palestinians and Moslem leftists.

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