The commander of the predominately-Moslem Lebanese Arab Army - known as the L.A.A. - has?
The commander of the predominately-Moslem Lebanese Arab Army - known as the L.A.A. - has confirmed reports that twenty-one Iranian, troops, serving with the United Nations forces in Lebanon, have defected because of their opposition to the Shah. However, Colonel Mohammed Selim, declined to say whether the Iranians had joined his rebel force.
SYNOPSIS: Colonel Selim, said in an interview there was a rift among the six-hundred man Iranian contingent - some for the Shah - some for the Shah's religious opponent, Ayatollah Khomeiny. Thirteen-hundred Iranian and French troops are due to pull out of southern Lebanon on Friday (19 January). Although most will be replaced by troops from other countries, recent military manoeuvres and sporadic shelling in this border area have raised fears of renewed fighting.
A UN officer said the right-wing Christian militias are reinforcing key positions, apparently ready to pounce on any weakness during the change-over of UN troops. Palestinian officials say their guerrilla forces in the UN area are on top alert. For months, the militias and Palestinians have exchanged no fire, but recently there has been trend towards shelling of UN positions, caught between the warring factions.
Although the Iranians plan to withdraw soon, Colonel Selim says the defectors will not return to Iran because they don't want to go home. When asked if the L.A.A. recruit the defectors, Colonel Selim replied, "We are with Khomeiny. We are with everyone who works for his country."