Missing Israeli Flier Reportedly Being Held in Iran
An Israeli airman missing in Lebanon since 1986 is being held in a military camp near the Iranian holy city of Qom, Iranian sources were quoted as saying Saturday.
In a front-page report from Tehran, the daily Voice of Kuwait said that airman Ron Arad was flown to Iran “around four months ago.” The report said only five people knew of the move, including Hajj Riza Askari, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard contingent in Lebanon.
The sources said the decision to move Arad was taken after Lebanese and Syrian patrols began searching areas close to where Arad was held.
Last week, Iran denied that Arad was there, as claimed by a source in the pro-Syrian Shiite Muslim Amal militia in Lebanon.
According to the Voice of Kuwait, the Iranian sources said Iran would not mind separating the issue of Arad and two other Israeli servicemen held by its Lebanese protege, Hezbollah, from the Western hostages in Lebanon.
The hostages’ fate has been tied to freedom for 300 to 400 Arabs held by Israel and its proxy Lebanese militia. But Israel has demanded firm information on seven missing Israeli soldiers, including Arad. It says only then would it consider releasing its Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners.
Such an exchange could lead to the release of the Westerners.