Israeli ground offensive in Lebanon

The Israeli army will continue to push into Lebanon despite the prime minister asking his cabinet to accept a UN resolution aimed at ending the conflict.

    Israeli troops waited on the border for the offensive to begin

    Israel's Channel Two television said Israeli forces have begun moving into southern Lebanon to support troops already fighting across the border.

    Ehud Olmert decided on Friday that Israeli troops would be sent deeper into southern Lebanon as the United Nations issued a draft resolution to end the four-week old conflict.

    Israel had signalled that the expanding offensive could be stopped if its demands – including those for a peacekeeping force with a strong mandate to disarm Hezbollah – were met.

    But the ground war is expected to continue to until the Israeli cabinet backs the UN proposal.

    The continued military operation will pave the way for the eventual takeover of the Israel-Lebanon border by Lebanese troops, said Mark Regev, Israeli foreign ministry spokesman.

    "The logic would be that even in the framework of this successful outcome, if you hand over to the Lebanese army a cleaner south Lebanon, a south Lebanon where you have Hezbollah removed from the territory, that makes their (the Lebanese) troubles a lot easier," Regev said.

    The cabinet is expected to vote on Sunday.

    Convoy attacked

    As Israeli ground forces prepared to advance, an unmanned Israeli drone aircraft fired several missiles at a convoy of more than 100 vehicles carrying civilians and 350 Lebanese soldiers fleeing southern Lebanon.

    At least six peoplewere killed and 30 wounded in the attack on the convoy after it had left the southern town of Marjayoun which was captured by Israeli forces on Thursday.

    Two armoured UN peacekeeping vehicles had led the convoy out of Marjayoun but it was not know if the were still accompanying it when the attack occurred.

    Beirut's southern suburbs were
    attacked after an Israeli warning

    A press photographer reported that there was a second attack on Red Cross and civil defence vehicles rushing to the aid of the convoy.

    Security souces said Israeli warplanes had also bombed two electricity transformers plunging the port city of Tyre into darkness.

    Earlier on Fridays another 19 people were killed in Israeli raids and an Israeli soldier was reported killed in fighting.

    Israeli raids on a bridge near the border with Syria killed 12 people and wounded 18, hospital staff said on Friday.

    Witnesses said a second strike hit the bridge 15 minutes after the first had brought rescuers rushing to the scene.

    Israeli strikes killed two people in the eastern Bekaa Valley and five in south Lebanon, security sources said.

    Israeli soldier killed

    An Israeli soldier was reportedly killed and one was badly wounded in fighting with Hezbollah fighters, Arab television said.

    More bombs hit Beirut's battered Shia Muslim suburbs, hours after dawn raids on the capital. Many people had fled the suburbs on Thursday after Israel dropped warning leaflets.

    Hezbollah fired more than 55 rockets into Israel on Friday, wounding seven people, police and ambulance staff said.

    Humanitarian agencies have sought ways to get aid to an estimated 100,000 people trapped in southern Lebanon and the mayor of Tyre said the city could run out of food in two days.

    Aid convoys have been unable to deliver supplies since an Israeli air strike destroyed a bridge over the Litani River on Monday. The bridge connected Tyre with Beirut.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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