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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Hezbollah building new military line

BEIRUT, Lebanon (UPI) - The armed wing of the Lebanese Hezbollah organization is openly rebuilding a military line further back from the Israeli border along with an arsenal.

A Times of London correspondent reported the build-up is occurring out of sight of the 12,000-strong U.N. Interim Force In Lebanon, or UNIFIL, although peacekeepers said they are aware of what's going on.

Hezbollah critic Walid Jumblatt told the newspaper Shiites are buying land to create a contiguous belt through the mountains north of the Litani river.

"The state of Hezbollah is already in existence in south Lebanon," Jumblatt said.

For 34 days last July and August, Hezbollah militia and Israeli troops fought along the border, killing more than 1,100 Lebanese civilians, 116 Israeli soldiers and 43 Israeli civilians.

A Western diplomat who asked not to be identified said while Hezbollah has admitted to rearming, the strategic land acquisitions suggest more is going on.

"We have evidence to support their presence there. It seems to be an expansion of what was there before the war," the diplomat said.
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