- KHIAM, Lebanon (AP) - Defying
calls for restraint, Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon fired more than two
dozen rockets and mortars Wednesday on Israeli outposts in one of the biggest
cross-border attacks in two years. In retaliation, Israeli warplanes repeatedly
raided suspected guerrilla positions.
- At least one Israeli soldier at a border post was wounded
in the barrage, Israel said. Two Israeli posts could be seen taking direct
hits from rockets and mortars, including a strike that sent flames and
smoke from a radar monitoring station on Mt. Hermon in the Israeli-held
- The exchange was the latest in a series of attacks along
the tense border that have coincided with Israel's offensive against Palestinian
militias in the West Bank. Israel and the United States have accused guerrillas
of trying to open up a new front in the conflict.
- U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Wednesday that
Syrian and Lebanese leaders had assured him they would try to curb guerrilla
attacks on Israel from Lebanon. "They will do everything they can,"
Annan said he was told. Syria is the main power broker in Lebanon and a
supporter of Hezbollah.
- Annan spoke in Spain, where he met with Secretary of
State Colin Powell on efforts to end the violence in the Mideast. A senior
U.S. official said Israel was being urged to act with restraint in response
to Hezbollah attacks.
- Israel said that in Wednesday's attacks, rockets were
fired into the Golan Heights and northern Israel. Hezbollah said its fighters
attacked six Israeli outposts in Chebaa Farms, a disputed patch of land
along the border adjacent to the Golan. It was one of the heaviest assaults
since Israel withdrew its troops from southern Lebanon in 2000.
- In one attack, Hezbollah said its guerrillas destroyed
Israeli fortifications and a Merkava tank at the Roueissat al-Alam post
in Chebaa Farms. Fighters advanced and raised a Hezbollah flag on the stricken
position, the guerrilla group said in a statement from Beirut.
- The Israeli military denied a tank was damaged. Israeli
military sources said the guerrillas tried to seize an Israeli position
under cover of rockets and light arms fire but were repulsed. During the
attempt they raised flags a distance from the post.
- Israeli artillery responded with shelling, and warplanes
struck positions near Lebanese villages near Chebaa Farms and in the Bekaa
Valley about 13 miles north of the border.
- The fighting trapped about 90 Lebanese students in a
school in Kfar Chouba, a village near the Chebaa Farms, said a teacher
at the school. They later managed to reach their homes, where families
huddled as the thud of explosions echoed in the nearby hills.
- Seven Israeli soldiers were wounded in the last few days
in the Chebaa Farms, a region of uninhabited farmland on the foothills
of Mt. Hermon that Lebanon, backed by Syria, claims as its own. Israel
captured the territory when its forces swept across Syria's Golan Heights
in the 1967 Middle East war. The United Nations says the Chebaa Farms region
is Syrian and that Syria and Israel should negotiate its fate.
- Besides the fighting around Chebaa Farms, the entire
length of the Lebanese-Israeli border has been seething with tension since
Israel's West Bank incursions began March 29.
- Rockets and machine gun fire from Lebanon have targeted
several Israeli border areas, but there were no injuries. Early Wednesday,
four Katyusha rockets fired from Lebanon hit the Israeli border town of
Kiryat Shemona, the Israeli military said. No one was hurt.
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