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Doubt Cast on Reports That Syria Holds Arad

Top Israeli officials have doubts about a claim by a senior PLO intelligence official that Israeli air force navigator Ron Arad was being held by the Syrians.

Israel Defense Force and political sources expressed reservations Wednesday about that claim as well as about a second claim that three other Israeli soldiers — Zachariya Baumel, Yehuda Katz and Zvi Feldman — were dead and had been buried in a Damascus cemetery.

The claims regarding the missing soldiers were made Tuesday by Col. Nezair Amar, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization delegation to the autonomy talks at the Sinai border town of Taba.

Amar made the claims during a break in the talks and later repeated them during an interview with the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv.

A high-ranking IDF officer said Wednesday that there was a “great deal of doubt that the report is accurate.”

But he added that the report was nevertheless being taken seriously and that further investigations would be carried out.

Arad was shot down near Saida, Lebanon, in October 1986.

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