TEL AVIV (Jul. 23)
Israeli aircraft raided several bases of the Islamic fundamentalist Hezbollah in southern Lebanon on Thursday morning, reportedly killing three civilians.
Reports from the area said the targets were in the Jebbel Saffi and Tufach areas southeast of Sidon. The planes, which all returned safely to their bases, carried out 13 sorties in the course of two hours, according to local accounts.
Thursday’s attacks were the latest in a series of raids aimed at disrupting Hezbollah plans to attack Israeli and South Lebanon Army targets in the border security zone.
They followed a series of Hezbollah and other attacks carried out against the Israel Defense Force and SLA in recent days — apparently timed to coincide with the Middle East visit of U.S. Secretary of State James Baker.
Baker met with Lebanese leaders Thursday in the mountaintop resort village of Zahle, on the highway linking Beirut to Damascus. He chose not to hold the meeting in Beirut because of the dangerous conditions prevailing in the Lebanese capital.
In a separate development, reports from Beirut said that Walid Khaled, chief aid to archterrorist Abu Nidal, was assassinated in the capital Thursday.
He was gunned down by small-arms automatic fire directed at his car from a passing vehicle as Khaled drove through the city streets.
The murder appears to be the latest in a series of attacks and assassinations carried out among the various militia and terrorist elements in Lebanon.