Blast at Palestinian base in Lebanon kills five: security source

Israeli soldiers take part in the annual general military exercise 'Firm Hand' in the northern Kibbutz of Yiftah near the border with Lebanon on May 30, 2023AFP

Five fighters from a pro-Syrian Palestinian militant group were killed in an accidental explosion at a base in eastern Lebanon, a Lebanese security source said Wednesday.

A spokesman for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) instead accused Israel of carrying out “overnight raids” at the base in Qusaya, near the Syrian border. Israel denied any involvement.

“An old rocket exploded in an arms depot on the base and five fighters were killed,” the security source said, requesting anonymity as they were not authorised to speak to the media.

The Damascus-based group has close ties with the Syrian government and its main Lebanese ally Hezbollah, and has bases in Lebanon’s eastern Bekaa Valley.

PFLP-GC spokesman Anwar Raja said Israel had carried out “overnight raids” on the base.

“Five fighters were killed,” he told AFP, adding that “for now we do not have more detailed information on the operation”.

The Israeli military, however, denied any involvement in the deadly blast.

“This is not IDF (Israeli army) activity,” a spokeswoman told AFP.

In August 2019, suspected Israeli strikes targeted the PFLP-GC in Qusaya.

In July 2015, a security official said a blast at a PFLP-GC base in Qusaya wounded seven people, while the Palestinian group blamed it on an Israeli strike.