5 Palestinian fighters killed, several wounded in Lebanon blast blamed on Israel

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine has blamed Israel for the killing of five of its members in a blast in eastern Lebanon, near the Syrian border.

Anwar Raja, a General Command (PFLP-GC) official, said an Israeli strike on Wednesday hit positions in the Lebanese town of Qusaya. He added 10 people were wounded, of which two were in critical condition.

However, an Israeli source told Reuters news agency that Tel Aviv had not been involved in the attack. There has been no official comment from Israel, nor from the Lebanese army or Hezbollah.

There were conflicting reports from Lebanese and Palestinian sources that the blast was a result of an old rocket going off in an arms depot or mines exploding while they were being moved.

Another PFLP-GC official, Lebanon-based Abu Wael Issam, said his group will retaliate “at the suitable time”. He added that the strike would not deter his group from “escalating the fight against the Israeli enemy”.

The group has positions along the Lebanon-Syria border as well as a military presence in both countries. The group had carried out attacks against Israel in the past.

The PFLP-GC is a left-wing group that broke off from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in 1968 and has backed the Syrian government. Its forces have fought alongside government troops in the war in Syria.

Based in Syria and Lebanon, the group has a presence in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, as well as Burj al-Barajneh in Beirut.

The group became known for major attacks against Israel. During Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1985, the PFLP-GC captured three Israeli soldiers and negotiated their release in exchange for more than 1,100 mostly Palestinian, Lebanese and Syrian prisoners.

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