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Syra-Lebanon

Five members of Palestinian militant group killed in blast on Lebanese-Syrian border

Five members of Palestinian militant group killed in blast on Lebanese-Syrian border
People attend the celebrations for the 55th anniversary of the founding of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in Gaza City, 08 December 2022. EPA-EFE/MOHAMMED SABER

Five members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command militant group were killed in a blast overnight near Lebanon's border with Syria, sources told Reuters on Wednesday, with the group blaming Israel but security sources disputing the account.

An Israeli source told Reuters the Israeli military was not involved in the Syria-Lebanon border blast and Lebanon’s army declined to comment.

A PFLP-GC statement on Wednesday said five of its members were killed in an Israeli air strike on a site controlled by the group near the border. The group’s spokesman in Damascus Anwar Raja told Reuters an Israeli strike on the Lebanese town of Qusaya had killed five members, including fighters, and wounded 10.

A representative for the PFLP-GC in Lebanon Abu Kifah Ghazi said airplanes had been heard over the group’s position all night.

But one Palestinian security source and a Lebanese security source told Reuters the deaths were the result of explosives and ammunition detonating as the PFLP-GC members were moving them.

A second Lebanese security source said he could not confirm the blast was the result of an Israeli strike.

The Israeli military told Reuters it does not comment on reports in foreign media.

The group was founded in 1968 after splitting from the similarly named Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

It has close ties to Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah group and maintains a small presence in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. Its founder, Ahmed Jibril, was based in Damascus until he died in 2021.

In its early years, the PFLP-GC carried out dozens of attacks in the Middle East and Europe, including airplane bombings, kidnappings and letter bombs, and was one of the first groups to use suicide squads.

 

(Reporting by Laila Bassam and Maya Gebeily in Beirut, Henriette Chacar and Dan Williams in Jerusalem, Ali Sawafta in Ramallah and Kinda Makieh in Damascus; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore, Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Jan Harvey)

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