Dissident Terrorist Group Says It Will Not Try Two Israeli Soldiers It Holds Prisoners

Beirut radio reported today that a dissident Palestinian terrorist group did not plan to place on trial two Israeli soldiers it holds prisoner. The report, which quoted an official spokesman for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, headed by Ahmed Jabreel, followed a warning by Israel yesterday that it holds Syria directly responsible for the safety of the soldiers.

An Israeli Defense Ministry spokesman said Syrian responsibility arises from the fact that the Syrians “fully control the Jabreel faction” which has its headquarters in Damascus. The faction, an offshoot of the Palestine Liberation Organization, is one of the groups rebelling against the leadership of PLO chief Yasir Arafat.

The two men in Jabreel’s hands were among eight Israeli soldiers captured by Palestinians in Lebanon 14 months ago. Six of them, held by the El Fatah wing of the PLO, were freed last week in exchange for some 4,600 Palestinians and Lebanese held prisoners by Israel. Three other Israeli soldiers remain in Syrian hands and five are still listed as missing.

ISRAELI CONCERN MOUNTED

Israel’s concern for the two held by Jabreel mounted after reports from Damascus quoted a Jabreel spokesman as saying they may be put on trial before a military court because they “invaded an Arab country and waged war on it.” The report indicated they could be sentenced to death.

But Beirut radio said today that a Jabreel spokesman said the group had no intention of trying the Israeli soldiers. They were visited by a representative of the International Red Cross this week and found to be in good health, it was reported here today.

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