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Israeli Bombs Hit Lebanon; Fighting Flares Near Border


Israeli warplanes are hitting targets across Lebanon for a ninth straight day, and a new round of heavy fighting between Israeli forces and Hezbollah guerrillas has erupted in southern Lebanon.

Intense battles are reported at two locations today (Thursday) inside Lebanon, near the Israeli border. Few details of the fighting are available, but Israel says three of its soldiers were wounded -- one, seriously.

Israeli ground forces are trying to destroy Hezbollah's weapons bunkers and rocket launch sites in southern Lebanon. Guerrillas have fired hundreds of rockets at Israeli towns and cities in the past week of fighting.

Israel's biggest operation on Wednesday was a huge air strike in southern Beirut aimed at a bunker used as a refuge by senior Hezbollah leaders. Israel says it dropped 23 tons of explosives on the bunker. Hezbollah says the bombs hit a mosque construction site, not a bunker, and that its leadership suffered no casualties.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora has made an emotional appeal for an end to the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah.

In comments to an Italian newspaper (Corriere della Sera) published today (Thursday), Mr. Siniora said Hezbollah has become "a state within a state" and the international community must help Lebanon disarm the militant group.

Mr. Siniora says Israel's military campaign has killed more than 300 Lebanese and wounded at least a thousand people.

Israel says it has lost 30 people, including more than 12 soldiers, since the fighting erupted after Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers on July 12th.

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