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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Hizbullah claims to have foiled IDF commando raid

Hizbullah claimed that it had foiled an IDF commando raid early Saturday in eastern Lebanon near the town of Baalbek.

The Lebanese army spokesman said that there has been an exchange of fire between Hizbullah gunmen and an Israeli force that was landed in the area.

The spokesman said that two vehicles were landed by IAF helicopters some 30 kilometers east of Baalbek. He added that the vehicles then drove eastward until they encountered the Hizbullah force at the town of Boudai.

Three Hizbullah gunmen were killed during the incident.

The army said its commandos entered Lebanon "to prevent and interfere with terror activity against Israel, especially the smuggling of arms from Iran and Syria to Hizbullah." The army said the force completed its mission successfully, and that such operations would be carried out until a multinational force is in place to prevent Hizbullah's rearmament.

Earlier it was reported that the IDF conducted an aerial attack in Boudai.

The French news agency reported that IAF planes attacked an uninhabited area next to the city of Baalbek, saying that low-flying IAF helicopters shot four missiles in the area.

Reuters stated that among the alleged targets were hills and roads leading to the town of Boudai in eastern Lebanon.

Voice of Lebanon radio claimed that the IDF struck a power station in the town.

Witnesses said Israeli missiles destroyed a bridge during the fighting.

The IDF confirmed the flights but stressed that the planes did not open fire on targets in Lebanon since the cease-fire went into effect on Monday. Still, the army said the incident was being investigated.

It noted that IAF flyovers in Lebanon were not a violation of the cease-fire.

Police in Lebanon claimed that anti-aircraft fire chased away the IAF aircraft, but that to their knowledge there had been no IAF missile attack.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora called United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan to protest what the prime minister termed Israeli violations of the cease-fire.

Earlier, Annan urged Israel to immediately lift the air and sea blockade on Lebanon, so that hundreds of thousands of Lebanese caught up in the 34-day Israeli-Hezbollah war can quickly receive aid.

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