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Syria-based breakaway Palestinian faction elects new leader

Syria-based breakaway Palestinian faction elects new leader

A breakaway Palestinian faction that carried out headline-grabbing attacks against Israel in the 1970s and 1980s has named a new leaderBy ALBERT AJI Associated PressJuly 18, 2021, 3:19 PM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleDAMASCUS, Syria — A breakaway Palestinian faction that carried out headline-grabbing attacks against Israel in the 1970s and 1980s has named a veteran new leader after its longtime founder died, the group said Sunday.The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command said Talal Naji, was elected during a meeting in Damascus. He will replace Ahmed Jibril, who died on July 7 after being sick for months.Naji was born in Nazareth in British-ruled Palestine in 1946. He studied in Syrian schools and joined the ranks of the Palestinian Liberation Front faction in 1962 before later joining the PFLP-GC.Naji, who had lost an arm and an eye in a grenade explosion reportedly while training, had been the deputy chief of the PFLP-GC since 1973. He obtained a doctorate in political science from Moscow in 1984.Khaled Jibril, the son of the late leader, was named as his deputy.The PFLP-GC became known for dramatic attacks against Israel, including the hijacking an El Al jetliner in 1968 and the machine gunning of another airliner at Zurich airport in 1969. In 1970, it planted a bomb on a Swissair jet that blew up on a flight from Zurich to Tel Aviv, killing all 47 on aboard.The Damascus-based group also carried out attacks against Israel from its bases in Lebanon.During Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, the PFLP-GC captured three Israeli soldiers and negotiated their release in exchange for more than 1,100 mostly Palestinian, Lebanese and Syrian prisoners in 1985.Among those released in the exchange was Kozo Okamoto, a member of the Japanese Red Army who took part in the 1972 shooting at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, that killed 24 people. Okamoto lives in Lebanon where he was granted political asylum decades ago.One dramatic attack in 1987 was carried out by two of his fighters who crossed from Lebanon into Israel on hang-gliders and killed six Israeli soldiers. The attack was considered as one of the triggers for the first intifada.The group is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and other Western countries.

Head of radical Palestinian group laid to rest in Syria

Head of radical Palestinian group laid to rest in Syria

Hundreds of people have attended the funeral of Ahmed Jibril, the leader of a breakaway Palestinian faction whose group carried out attacks in the 1970s and 1980s against Israeli targets was laid to rest in the Syrian capital of DamascusBy ALBERT AJI Associated PressJuly 9, 2021, 10:27 AM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleDAMASCUS, Syria — Hundreds of people attended on Friday the funeral of Ahmed Jibril, the leader of a breakaway Palestinian faction whose group carried out attacks in the 1970s and 1980s against Israeli targets was laid to rest in the Syrian capital of Damascus.Special funeral prayers were held for Jibril whose coffin was wrapped with a Palestinian flag at Damascus’ Al-Othman Mosque and was later taken for burial in the cemetery of the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk, Syria’s largest.Jibril was buried next to his son, Jihad, who was killed in an explosion in 2002 in Beirut, for which the group blamed Israel. Jihad Jibril was head of the PFLP-GC military wing at the time.The funeral was attended by hundreds of Palestinian and Syrian supporters as well as officials of Jibril’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command and other Damascus-based Palestinian factions.Jibril, 83, died on Wednesday in a Damascus hospital after being sick for months.The son of a Palestinian father and a Syrian mother, Jibril was born in Jaffa in 1938, in what was then British-ruled Palestine. His family later moved to Syria, where he became an officer in the Syrian army and acquired Syrian nationality.“Commander Jibril was one of the founders of the contemporary Palestinian revolution and one of the leaders who made the contemporary Palestinian history,” said Samir Rifai, the Palestinian Authority’s ambassador to Damascus.Jibril founded the PFLP in the late 1950s but broke away over ideological disputes. In 1968, he founded the pro-Syrian breakaway PFLP-GC, which briefly joined the Palestine Liberation Organization, but left the umbrella group in 1974, amid sharp disagreements with PLO leader Yasser Arafat.Jibril was a vehement opponent of peace talks with Israel. His group became known for some of the more headline-grabbing attacks against Israel, including the hijacking an El Al jetliner in 1968 and machine gunning another at Zurich airport in 1969. In 1970, it planted a time-bomb on a Swissair jet that blew up on a flight from Zurich to Tel Aviv, killing all 47 on aboard.The Damascus-based group also carried out attacks against Israel from its bases in Lebanon.The group is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and other Western countries.During Syria’s 10-year conflict, Jibril’s group supported Syrian government forces.