Sat, Aug 05, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Israeli attack wrecks four Lebanese bridges

AGENCIES , BEIRUT, TYRE AND CHTOURA, LEBANON

Israeli warplanes wrecked four bridges yesterday along the coastal highway in the Christian heartland north of Beirut, apparently aiming to further isolate Lebanon in a blistering succession of early morning raids.

The bridges are along the northern coastal highway which was practically the only outlet by land through Syria after the bombardment of other border crossing points by the Israeli air force since the start of the offensive on Lebanon on July 12.

Israeli warplanes also again struck the main Masnaa border crossing in eastern Lebanon and the Faraya-Ouyoun Al-Simane road linking the Mount Lebanon range with the inland Bekaa Valley, the state news agency ANI said.

The targeted Christian areas in Mount Lebanon had up to now been largely spared by the Israeli attacks. Hundreds of thousands of people displaced from Beirut, its suburbs and the south of the country have sought refuge in Mount Lebanon.

The morning raids -- which caused panic among residents and sparked road accidents -- left five people dead and 15 others wounded, according to police and Red Cross officials. A number of people were feared to be under the rubble of the fallen bridges.

Israel's 24-day-old bombardment of Lebanon has killed at least 925 people and wounded 3,283, according to an AFP count.

International and UN agencies said the bombings had cut off the "umbilical cord" for relief supplies and halted evacuations from the country to Syria.

Israeli jets struck two bridges on the coastal road 20km north of Beirut, including a main bridge near the Casino du Liban, in the Christian port of Junieh, police said.

Moments later, they completely destroyed Fidar bridge in the village of Halat and the Madfun bridge linking northern Lebanon with the rest of the country, they said.

Lebanese Red Cross official George Kettany said four civilians were killed and 12 others wounded in the attacks on the bridges, with a number of people believed to be trapped in cars under the rubble.

South of the city, fighter bombers hit the suburb of Uzai, near Beirut international airport, for the first time since Israel unleashed its massive campaign by air, land and sea to oust Hezbollah fighters from southern Lebanon.

The Lebanese army said one of its soldiers was killed and three were wounded as the Israelis launched 19 raids in less than an hour on Uzai and surrounding areas.

At least 27 farm workers were also killed yesterday when Israeli aircraft bombarded trucks being loaded with fruit at a farm on Lebanon's border with Syria, security sources said.

They said the farm was near the village of Qaa in the northern tip of the eastern Bekaa Valley. The casualties, who include many Syrians, were being evacuated to hospitals in Syria.

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