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Israeli Warplanes Hit Hezbollah Targets in Beirut, Bekaa Valley

Israeli warplanes today (Thursday) struck Hezbollah targets on the outskirts of Beirut as well as Lebanon's eastern Bekaa Valley, along the border with Syria.

At least four explosions rocked Beirut's southern suburb (Dahieh), a Shi'ite Muslim district that Israel has bombed repeatedly.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told an Italian newspaper the military offensive is close to achieving its goal and he believes the United Nations will vote on a cease-fire resolution next week. Israel wants to disarm Hezbollah and push the guerrillas out of southern Lebanon.

Lebanon's Prime Minister Fouad Siniora says the three-week-conflict has killed more than 900 people and wounded some three-thousand others. (In a video statement to an Islamic conference in Malaysia) Mr. Siniora said about one-third of the casualties are children under 12.

In southern Lebanon, about 10-thousand Israeli ground troops are engaged in heavy fighting with Hezbollah guerrillas. The Israeli army says soldiers have seized ground near at least 10 towns and villages in the region. Hezbollah is continuing to launch rockets at northern Israel.

Hezbollah guerrillas shot more than 200 rockets into Israel Wednesday -- the most missiles launched in any single day during the three-week conflict. The barrage killed one person near the town of Nahariya in northern Israel.

One Israeli soldier died and four others were wounded in fierce fighting near the village of Ayta a-Shab on Wednesday.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair says a United Nations resolution to halt the fighting in Lebanon is likely near.

In London, Mr. Blair said he hopes major powers on the Security Council will agree within days on a U.N. resolution for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah.

Western diplomats say that after a ceasefire is announced, plans will be put in place for an international force in southern Lebanon.

In Malaysia today (Thursday), Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said the best solution for the Middle East would be the elimination of Israel. But in the meantime, he said, an immediate ceasefire must be implemented.

Mr. Ahmadinejad was speaking at an emergency meeting of Islamic leaders who called on the U.N. Security Council to enforce an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire.