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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Latest developments in the Middle East

Aug 15 (Reuters) - Here are developments on the 35th day of the Middle East crisis.

* Israel's top general, Dan Halutz, says his troops could complete withdrawal from southern Lebanon in seven to 10 days.

* Thousands of Lebanese refugees head home to south Lebanon as U.N. truce between Israel and Hizbollah holds.

* Israeli troops leave Marjayoun, Qlaiah, Ghandouriyeh; army plans to hand over small pockets of southern Lebanon to U.N. troops in day or two, Israeli officials and Western diplomats say.

* Israeli media say 1,000 paratroops returned to Israel overnight.

* Syrian President Assad praises Hizbollah for resisting Israeli forces, says Middle East peace will remain elusive for foreseeable future and blames U.S. policies.

* Influential Iranian cleric Ahmad Khatami says Iran will hit Tel Aviv with missiles if U.S. and Israel attack Iran.

* Israeli army says Hizbollah fired four mortar bombs overnight which landed near Israeli troops in southern Lebanon, causing no casualties or damage.

* French military officers head to U.N. to discuss the boosted U.N. peacekeeping force France is expected to lead, U.N. and French officials say.

* Lebanese Defence Minister Murr says Lebanese army will send 15,000 troops to north bank of Litani River around the end of the week, ready to enter southern border area.

* Around 1,110 people in Lebanon and 156 Israelis killed in war.
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