Archive for Saturday, August 19, 2006

Hezbollah claims to block Israeli raid

August 19, 2006

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— Hezbollah said its guerrillas foiled an Israeli commando raid early today west of their stronghold of Baalbek deep inside Lebanon.

Lebanese security officials could not confirm a report on Hezbollah TV of airstrikes and that Israeli commandos had been dropped off at a field west of Baalbek.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to release information to reporters, reported heavy Israeli overflights.

An Israeli army spokesman said officials were looking into the report.

Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV said the Israeli commando force landed before dawn and was driving into Boudai when it was intercepted by guerrillas who forced it to retreat under the cover of warplanes, which staged mock raids.

Israel said today its warplanes had not attacked Lebanon since an Aug. 14 cease-fire halted 34 days of fighting between Hezbollah and Israeli forces.

Baalbek is the birthplace of the Iranian and Syrian-backed Hezbollah. The area in the eastern Bekaa Valley, 60 miles north of the Israeli border, is a major guerrilla stronghold.

On Aug. 2, Israeli commandos targeted the Iranian-funded, Hezbollah-run Dar al-Hikma Hospital. The commando assault and Israeli strikes throughout the region around the ancient town killed 16 people, according to Lebanese police. Baalbek residents said four people were taken away and none was Hezbollah fighters.

Israel said then that the building its commandos entered was not a hospital but a Hezbollah headquarters.

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