Hezbollah fighters are said to have foiled an Israeli commando raid west of Baalbek in eastern Lebanon, after clashes that left one Israeli soldier dead and two others wounded.
Media reports quoted Lebanese security sources as saying on Saturday that Israeli aircraft and commandos raided the village of Budai, west of the ancient city of Baalbek in the Bekaa Valley, at dawn.
The sources said that Israeli warplanes and helicopters attacked unidentified targets during the air drop of the commandos.
Al-Manar TV reported that fighters from Hezbollah clashed with Israeli commandos near Budai and forced them to fly out under the cover of air strikes.
The Hezbollah-run station said the Israeli unit landed before dawn and was driving into the village when it was intercepted by the fighters, who forced it to retreat under the cover of warplanes.
It said the fighters had inflicted "certain casualties" among the Israeli forces.
Lebanese security sources said that three Hezbollah fighters were also killed in a firefight.
Bassam al-Qadiri, Aljazeera's correspondent in Lebanon, said that a Hezbollah information official source in Bekaa denied that any of the movement’s fighters had been killed or injured in the airdrop operation.
The source told Aljazeera that six Israeli soldiers were injured during clashes between the fighters and Israeli troops.
A Lebanese security source said the Israeli airdrop operation sought to target Hezbollah leader Muhammad Yazbek.
Baalbek was the target of a
previous Israeli commando raid
The Israeli army later confirmed that it had carried out the operation, making it the broadest violation yet of the five-day-old UN-brokered ceasefire that ended 34 days of its attacks on Lebanon.
The army said the raid was to prevent arms being delivered to Hezbollah by Iran and Syria.
"Special forces carried out an operation to disrupt terror actions against Israel with an emphasis on the transfer of munitions from Syria and Iran to Hezbollah," the army said.
"The operation achieved all its aims and Israel will continue to prevent and thwart such shipments to Hezbollah until they are stopped."
The army said one of the soldiers wounded was in a serious condition and the other suffered light injuries.
Lebanon's prime minister accused Israel of violating the UN-brokered ceasefire and said he would take up the issue with Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general.
"The landing carried out by the Israeli occupation forces today in the Bekaa was a flagrant violation of the cessation of hostilities announced by the Security Council," Fuad Siniora said in a statement.
Siniora called the raid a flagrant
violation of the ceasefire
He added that he had complained to a UN delegation that visited him Saturday, and would take up the matter with Annan.
Fawzi Sallukh, the Lebanese foreign minister, said that he discussed the issue with Vijay Nambiar and Terje Roed-Larsen, the visiting UN envoys.
He said they pledged to ask Israel to stop violations of Lebanese territory.
"They promised to raise the issue with Israel to ask them to stop the violations," Sallukh said after a meeting with the envoys who did not wish to comment.
Nambiar and Roed-Larsen were in Beirut to try to ensure that both sides implemented the truce resolution "without delay", a UN source said.