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Israeli Officials Say Syria Was Responsible for the Beirut Massacre

Israeli officials asserted today that the Syrians were responsible for yesterday’s massacre in Beirut in which at least 183 U.S. marines and sailors were killed and 75 were wounded.

In addition, at least 27 French paratroopers were killed, 13 wounded and 53 missing.

The figures of the dead, wounded and missing kept changing upwards during the day according to different assessments of the tragedy by Lebanese, American and French authorities. The number of Americans killed was the highest in a single attack since the Vietnam War.

According to Deputy Premier David Levy, the magnitude of yesterday’s attack pointed to Syria’s role in the tragedy. He said a small, hitherto unknown organization could not have carried out such an attack on the U.S. and French military headquarters unless it was aided by a large country. Levy was referring to a group calling itself the Free Islamic Revolutionary Movement which claimed responsibility for the suicide mission attacks. (Related stories, P.3.)

ARENS: ISRAEL DID NOT INVITE MARINES TO LEBANON

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Moshe Arens told the Knesset Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee that the marines stationed in Lebanon as part of the multinational peacekeeping force are not there at the behest of Israel. “We did not invite them,” he said. “The Americans entered Lebanon after the massacres in Sabra and Shatila (refugee camps), at the invitation of Lebanon.” Therefore, Arens suggested, Israel cannot be identified with the U.S. in this context.

Arens was reacting to comments by Labor Alignment MK Yitzhak Rabin who said there were too many statements issued in Israel “which could be interpreted as an Israeli invitation to the U.S. to stay in Lebanon.” The former Premier said that the Lebanon crisis might end up in an American as well as Israeli failure. Both countries, Rabin said, have been living with illusions that the war in Lebanon last year succeeded in destroying the Palestine Liberation Organization and terrorism in that war-torn country. Today there is more terror in Beirut than there had been prior to the war, he asserted.

Arens also told the Knesset committee that the redeployment of the Israel Defense Force from the Shouf mountains to the Awali River in the south of Lebanon was not the end of the redeployment process. The Awali River line is not sacred, he said. If Israel finds another, better line to redeploy its forces further south it would do so.

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