TEL AVIV (Nov. 20)
Israel acknowledged today that one of its aircraft was shot down by surface-to-air missiles during an attack on terrorist targets in the Shouf mountains southeast of Beirut.
A military spokesman said the pilot parachuted safely in an area held by the Lebanese army and was taken prisoner by them. He said the downed plane crashed in a field near positions held by U.S. marines around Beirut. The Israelis denied a Syrian claim that two Israeli planes were downed by its Soviet-made anti-aircraft missiles. Only one plane was hit while attacking terrorist targets, the spokesman said.
Today’s raid was the second Israeli air attack on terrorist bases in Lebanon since last Wednesday. The aircraft taking part in it were identified as Kfirs, fighter-bombers designed and built in Israel.
The targets were described as training camps and bases used as a launching point for attacks in Lebanon by the pro-Syrian Al Saiqa terrorists and extremist Palestinian dissident groups headed by Ahmed Jibril and Naif Hawatme. According to the Syrians, the Israeli planes were attacking positions held by Lebanese Druze fighters led by Walid Jumblatt.
The Israeli air strike last Wednesday had been against pro-Iranian Shiite Moslems believed responsible for the truck-bombing of Israeli military headquarters in Tyre November 4 and the similar attack on U.S. and French military headquarters in Beirut, all of which caused heavy loss of lives. French carrier-based aircraft attacked the same targets last Thursday.