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Israel’s IDF Raid Hezbollah Positions In Lebanon

From Radio New Zealand:

Israeli special forces and their llamas wait to cross the Israel-Lebanon border west of Avivim, late night August 1, 2006.

Israel expands war into Baalbeck

02 Aug 2006

Israeli forces thrust into Lebanon on Tuesday in an escalation of the war and landed troops by helicopter in Hizbollah heartland near Baalbek.

The Israeli army said three Israeli soldiers were killed in fighting in the south. Hizbollah said it launched multiple rockets at Matzuva in northern Israel, and the Israeli army said five of its soldiers were wounded in cross-border fire.

Three weeks after the war erupted when Hizbollah seized two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid, Israel’s security cabinet agreed to step up its offensive, entailing a ground sweep 6km-7km into Lebanon.

Brigadier General Shuki Shahur said Israel currently had about six brigades inside Lebanon. An Israeli brigade usually has at least 1,000 soldiers.

Lebanese security sources said Israeli soldiers had landed by helicopter near Baalbek in the eastern Bekaa valley as aircraft launched several strikes in the region.

Israel said it would resume full air strikes in Lebanon early on Wednesday at the end of a partial, 48-hour suspension.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Tuesday that Hizbollah had suffered heavy losses and he saw signs of movement towards a ceasefire. Israel says it will not stop fighting until an international force is in place in southern Lebanon.

And from the AFP:

Hizbullah: We’ve surrounded IDF troops that landed next to Baalbeck

A spokesperson for Hizbullah said operatives of the terror organization had surrounding IDF troops that landed south of Baalbeck in the Bekaa Valley.

No more details were communicated.

And from Haaretz.com:

IDF commandos conducting raid deep in Lebanon; 3 soldiers killed in south Lebanon village

02/08/2006

Report: ‘Unprecedented’ IAF presence over Baalbeck

IDF commandos conducting raid deep in Lebanon; 3 soldiers killed in south Lebanon village

By Ze’ev Schiff, Amos Harel and Aluf Benn, Haaretz Correspondents, Haaretz Service and Agencies

Lebanese army and security officials said a major Israel Defense Forces operation was underway against suspected Hezbollah positions near Baalbek in eastern Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley late Tuesday. IDF troops thrust deep into the area, landing troops by helicopter in the Hezbollah heartland.

Lebanese security sources said IDF soldiers had landed by helicopter near Baalbek as aircraft launched several strikes in the region.

One Lebanese officer saying the Israel Air Force presence in the air above the ancient city was "unprecedented."

Lebanese army and security officials said a major IDF operation was under way against suspected Hezbollah positions near Baalbek.

The operation began with at least five rapid air strikes three hours before the end of Israel’s self-imposed two-day pause in air attacks.

"The extreme, unprecedented number of aircraft indicates the possibility that the Israelis are planning to land troops, but we cannot yet confirm that," said one security official on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

Other security officials, also speaking anonymously for the same reason, denied IDF troops were on the ground.

Flares held aloft by parachutes lighted the night sky to a daytime brilliance, the official said.

Witnesses in Baalbek said they saw dozens of IAF helicopters hovering over the city and said it was on alert against a possible troop landing.

They said a private hospital in Baalbek, filled with patients and wounded people, was bombed by IAF helicopters late Tuesday. Plumes of burning smoke billowed from the hospital after it was directly hit, they said.

There was no immediate word on casualties.

Early Wednesday, Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV reported the group’s guerrillas were fighting IDF ground troops west of Baalbek. The broadcast said fighters were involved in a "confrontation with an Israeli unit that landed near Al-Hikma Hospital west of Baalbek."

The IDF would not comment when asked about the Bekaa Valley operation. Israel Radio reported briefly on the Baalbek operation quoting reports from Lebanon with no local comment.

Baalbek is about 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of the Litani River, which Israel had set as a northern boundary for an expanded ground operation that was announced in the early hours Tuesday.

IAF warplanes and helicopters started the operation on Baalbek and its surroundings at 10:20 P.M.

Baalbek, an ancient city with spectacular Roman ruins, was a former Syrian army headquarters and included the barracks of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards when they trained Hezbollah guerrillas there in the 1980s.

IAF helicopters also attacked a target 15 kilometers west of Baalbek, starting a huge fire, witnesses said. It was not immediately known if the target was controlled by Hezbollah or the Lebanese army, whose positions in the area have been routine targets since the start of the fighting 21 days ago.

Some reports indicate this was a special forces raid on a Hezbollah hospital in Baalbeck where an Israeli hostage may have been being held.

But it’s beginning to sound bigger than that.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, August 1st, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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