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Iranian Volunteers Rumored in Syria

According to reports from Damascus, about 40 Iranian volunteers arrived in the Syrian capital today en route to the Palestinian terrorist camps in Lebanon. The Iranians, many of whom are reportedly teenagers, landed in Syria despite the Lebanese government’s opposition to their arrival.

According to these reports, today’s group will soon join an earlier group of 50 Iranians already training in the Palestinian camps in Lebanon. However, so far there is no confirmation here that the Iranians have actually arrived. Reports originating from the Christian forces in southern Lebanon say as many as 300 Iranians have infiltrated to Lebanon through Syria.

The volunteers are members of an organization called “Mujahiddin Foq Iran” (“Fighters for the Renewal of Iran”). Founded in 1964, the organization’s members are reportedly extreme. Marxists and Moslem religious fanatics. During the Shah’s regime they were active as an underground group. Prior to the civil war in Lebanon many of its members trained in the various Palestinian camps.

The group is now led by Sheikh Mohammad Montazeri, one of the leaders of the Iranian revolution. Montazeri claimed in Teheran yesterday that the expedition force to Lebanon was funded entirely by private contributions, after the ruling Revolutionary Council declined to charter a plane for the volunteers.

It seems that hardly anybody is interested in their operation in Lebanon. The Lebanese government has said firmly it did not want the group there, and last week it closed the country’s airports to Iranian planes in an effort to prevent them from landing. The Syrians have also shown no enthusiasm for receiving the guests, and even the PLO reacted cooly to the volunteers’ reported arrival.

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