Some 40 Iranian volunteers eager to join Palestinian guerrillas fighting Israel arrived in Syria today enroute to south Lebanon, despite Lebanese protests and Palestinian discomfort.
Two Israeli jet fighters flew over southern Lebanon this morning, raising the specter of another Israeli invasion and frightening droves of southern villagers into fleeing north.
Lebanese President Elias Sarkis told the commmander of the mainly Syrian Arab peace force here to keep any Iranians from entering Lebanon through Syria, government sources said.
Syria had already given assurances that the zealous Iranian fighters would be barred from forcing their way through the Lebanese-Syrian borders. Neverthless, the 40 Iranians arrived in Damascus at dawn, dressed in khaki fatigues. The unarmed group included eight veiled women and a 70-year-old man.
A Syrian source said group was taken to a Palestinian camp outside the Syrian capital for "rigorous training."
Palestine Liberation Organization officials are embarrassed by the Iranian volunteer issue. The Lebanese government has been pressing for an end to Palestinian guerrilla activity in southern Lebanon. A PLO official tried to play down the reports from Damascus, saying, "This is nonsense."
"We are not opposed to the principle of having volunteers help us out, but this has been a personal initiative. We were not consulted and neither were government officials in Tehran," he added. "At least they could spare us the the propaganda if they want to come."