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Israel Confirms Presence of Syrian Army Unit Near Israel’s Border

Israeli sources confirmed today that a Syrian army unit of battalion strength has entered the south Lebanese town of Nabatiyeh, less than 10 miles from Israel’s border. The Syrian troops and armored cars encountered no resistance from the local populace, according to the report. The unit is part of the inter-Arab peace-keeping force in Lebanon which consists mainly of Syrian formations with token forces from other Arab countries.

The latest Syrian deployment has created a new situation in southern Lebanon, the Israeli sources said and developments are being watched closely. Nabatiyeh lies inside the red line zone, a region never defined by Israel in precise geographical terms but in which Israel said it would take action if an Arab army entered and created a situation that threatened its security.

The force in Nabatiyeh is expected to fan out to the south and west in order to prevent clashes between Moslem and Christian Lebanese. A Lebanese army unit has entered the port town of Tyre which is also close to Israel’s border, it was learned today.

PERES ISSUES WARNING

Defense Minister Shimon Peres warned today that Israel would not tolerate a threat to its security arising from a crossing of the red line. He said, however, that the government would study the situation before deciding what measures to take. He noted the reports of the Syrian troop movements at Nabatiyeh needed further verification. Peres made his remarks at ceremonies inaugurating a new settlement north of the Dead Sea–Nahal Almog–named for the late Yehuda Almog who pioneered the development of the Judean desert and the Dead Sea region.

Meanwhile yesterday’s artillery duel between Christians and Moslems in southern Lebanon sent several stray shells crashing into Israeli territory near Kibbutz Misgav Am in Upper Galilee. There were no casualties or damage. Despite the new outbreak of fighting, Lebanese civilians continued to enter Israel through the open fence. A group of 16 Lebanese school teachers and principals visited the Reali School in Haifa today to observe Israeli educational methods.

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