Sun, Aug 13, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Israel expands ground offensive

NO RESPITE Israeli troops pushed deeper into south Lebanon despite Olmert's statement that he backed the UN resolution calling for a halt to the conflict

AGENCIES , BEIRUT AND TYRE, LEBANON

Israeli forces thrust deeper into Lebanon against fierce Hezbollah resistance yesterday, hours after the UN Security Council adopted a resolution to end the month-old war.

After the unanimous council vote on Friday night, Israel launched an expanded ground offensive in the south, even though Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he backed the resolution.

Relief officials said Israel was still denying access for aid convoys to distressed civilians despite the resolution.

Israeli troops yesterday towards hilltops overlooking the strategic Litani river as the army expanded its ground offensive on the 32nd day of its war on Hezbollah.

Israeli tanks and armored vehicles rolled from the village of Qantara -- captured the day earlier -- towards Ghanduriyeh Froun, two villages which overlook the river some 10km inside the border.

The Shiite Muslim Hezbollah said it had rebuffed the Israeli advance with fierce resistance and destroyed two tanks, while the Israeli air force and artillery was bombarding the area in support of their ground troops.

The Israeli army said it had launched a widescale offensive in south Lebanon early yesterday, despite a UN resolution calling for a halt to the month-long fighting.

The army said its ground operation was expected to extend up to the Litani river, which runs up to 30km away from the Israeli border.

The Litani river has served as a strategic limit for Israel's operations in Lebanon since it first invaded its northern neighbor in 1978.

new phase

Israel has poured thousands of soldiers into an area of south Lebanon stretching from Bayadda on the coast in the west to the village of Kfar Kila in the east but yesterday's fighting appeared to mark a new phase in the offensive.

The UN resolution -- which calls for a cessation of the month-long hostilities -- also did not stop Israel from launching a relentless air bombardment of southern Lebanon, killing eight people.

Five civilians were killed when Israeli aircraft bombarded the village of Rashaf east of the port city of Tyre in south Lebanon, police said.

Three civilians were killed and seven others wounded in Israeli air raids near the southern city of Sidon, Lebanese police sources said.

Israeli fighter-bombers had earlier staged four raids on Sidon, destroying the electricity plant for south Lebanon's main city, police said.

Israeli drones late on Friday killed five people when they attacked a convoy carrying hundreds of Lebanese security forces and civilians fleeing a southern town caught in the war between Israel and Hezbollah.

escape

Hundreds of Lebanese soldiers and civilians fleeing the Israeli bombardments were in the convoy, which several hours previously had left Marjayun escorted by two UN Interim Force in Lebanon armored vehicles.

Before dawn Israeli warplanes staged a series of raids on the southeastern village of Khiam, 7km from the border with Israel, as well as the neighboring village of Dibbine, police said.

Khiam was the site of a major Israeli incursion last week which saw the Shiite stronghold village surrounded in a pincer movement around two entrances.

Israeli aircraft also attacked a Hezbollah stronghold in the southern part of the eastern Bekaa valley from where the Shiite militia has been firing rockets against Israel.

Hezbollah also fired a salvo of 20 rockets at Israel from south Lebanon's al-Arqub region overlooking Galilee, police said.

This story has been viewed 2655 times.
TOP top