Rabin Says There is No Increased Presence of IDF Troops in Lebanon

Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin today denied that the killing this week of two Israel Defense Force soldiers in south Lebanon indicated an increased Israeli presence in the south Lebanon security zone.

“We have reduced our presence in Lebanon to a minimum, mainly for liaison with the South Lebanon Army,” Rabin said in an interview with Israel Radio. “Those two soldiers who were killed in Lebanon were part of a unit which is normally and basically stationed in Israel and carries out night operations in the security zone, or day operations patrolling and ambushing, but they are not stationed in Lebanon at all.”

The two 19-year-old IDF soldiers were killed in an early morning clash with terrorists near the village of Majdel Selim on the edge of the security zone some four miles north of the Israel border near Kiryat Shmona. Three terrorists were killed and two other IDF soldiers were wounded in the clash. The casualties were the first suffered by Israel in Lebanon since last April 24 and it brought the Israeli death toll in the Lebanon war to 656.

SLA SOLDIER KILLED BY GRENADE

Attacks against the Israeli-backed SLA continued today when a grenade was thrown into an SLA position near Sajjit Village, fatally wounding an SLA soldier. Rocket-propelled grenades were fired at another SLA post yesterday near Ras Bayda on the coast at the western end of the security zone border. No casualties were reported.

It was the second attack on the SLA in as many days in the security zone, which runs from 3 to 12 miles north of the Israeli border. Yesterday, a suicide bomber riding on a mule killed himself and his animal when he set off an explosive charge hidden in the baskets slung from the mule as he approached the fence surrounding the SLA headquarters outside Hasbaya. The suicide bomber was later identified as a 23-year-old Sunni Moslem student from Kamed Loz village.

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