Following the projectiles launched from southern Lebanon into Israel on 6 April 2023, Asharq Al-Awsat reported on 24 April that the ‘Sovereign Front for Lebanon’ filed a complaint before the military court against Hamas. The Front communicated its rejection of eleven alleged PFLP-GC military bases established outside Palestinian camps extending from Naameh on Lebanon’s coast, south of Beirut, to Qusaya on the eastern border with Syria. Naameh is considered the most dangerous base, as it overlooks Beirut Airport, the Beirut-South Highway, and other sites, and includes military tunnels and warehouses for weapons and missiles.”
The Front added that these bases host hundreds of armed elements, weapons, and missiles, are outside the Lebanese state’s authority, are not subject to the PLO, and receive orders from the Syrian regime.
The US State Department reported (in its country reports on terrorism ) that the PFLP-GC, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization since 1997, split from the PFLP in 1968, claiming to focus more on fighting and less on politics. Ahmad Jibril, a former captain in the Syrian Army whose son Jihad was killed by a car bomb in May 2002, has led the PFLP-GC since its founding. Ahmad Jibril died in Damascus back in 2021 at the age of 84. Talal Naji, which replaced Ahmed Jibril, was born in Nazareth in British-ruled Palestine in 1946. He studied in Syrian schools and joined the ranks of the PLF faction in 1962 before later joining the PFLP-GC. Ahmed Jibril’s son, Khaled Jibril, became deputy SG of the PFLP-GC and is responsible for the group’s military activities.
The PFLP-GC is said to have close tied to both Syria and Iran and has carried out dozens of attacks in Europe and the Middle East during the 1970s & 1980s. In addition, the organization was also known for cross-border terrorist attacks in Israel using unusual methods, such as motorized hang gliders.
There is a well-known history of clashes between Israel and the PFLP-GC. Among the group’s lethal military operations, it was suspected to be behind the Kiryat Shmona massacre (1974), killing eighteen Israelis, nearly half of them children, injuring 16 more, and the ‘Night of the Gliders’ (1987), when two PFLP-GC operatives infiltrated Israel using hang-gliders from southern Lebanon and killed six IDF soldiers. In addition, it claimed responsibility for the bombing of the Swissair Flight 330 (1970).
Among IDF counter-operations, an Israeli commando operation was launched in December 1988 (Operation Blue & Brown) against the fortified Lebanese HQ of the group in Naameh.
In August 2013, Israel reportedly hit the PFLP-GC base in Naameh following a rocket attack on Israel. In December 2015, the group claimed responsibility for a rocket fire against Israel from Lebanon.
In July 2015, the PFLP-GC claimed that the IAF struck its base near the Lebanese border with Syria, injuring six. Reportedly, the IAF jets hit an arms depot in the area of Qusaya. The Syrian Army indeed confirmed that Israeli airstrikes hit a pro-Syrian Palestinian militia base along the Syria-Lebanon border. In 2019, Israel reportedly struck PFLP-GC military positions near Qusaya again; the strike followed the bombing of an Iran-linked base in Syria plotting to launch weaponized drones into Israel, a drone attack on a Hezbollah office in Beirut, and an attack on an Iran-linked militia in Iraq. The 2019 strike also came hours after Israel bombed a Hamas base in Gaza in response to three rockets fired from the Strip into Israel.