Tel Aviv (Feb. 25)
Palestinian terrorist forces in southern Lebanon now have about 100 Soviet-built and supplied T-34 tanks but have not used them yet operationally, military sources said here today.
The first 60 of the tanks were supplied by Eastern European countries via Syria at the beginning of 1980, and the last 20 were delivered recently through Hungary, they said. The tanks are concentrated in the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Palestine Liberation Army area near Sidon on the Mediterranean coast just north of the area controlled by the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
In addition to the tanks, the PLO has also obtained about 100 artillery pieces of various calibers, heavy mortars and Katyusha rocket launchers, of Soviet, French and North Korean manufacture. Some were taken over by the some 1,000 Arab Lebanon army when they split away from the official Lebanese army during the civil war in Lebanon, joining the PLO from whom they now receive their pay.
The sources said the PLO had also begun training some of its men in aviation and the manning of anti-aircraft batteries. Pilots and ground staff are trained in Eastern Europe, Libya and Uganda. The build-up of the PLO with modern offensive weapons is being watched closely in Israel.