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One dead in Israel strikes on east Lebanon — security source

By AFP - Mar 12,2024 - Last updated at Mar 12,2024

This photo taken from Israel along the border with southern Lebanon shows smoke billowing near the Lebanese village of Khiam during Israeli bombardment on Tuesday (AFP photo)

BEIRUT — Israeli strikes on eastern Lebanon killed one person on Tuesday, a security source said, in an escalation of cross-border fire with the powerful Hizbollah movement that has raised fears of spiralling violence.

Since the day after the Israeli war on Gaza erupted in October, Hamas ally Hizbollah and Israel have exchanged near-daily fire across Lebanon's southern frontier, but several Israeli strikes have recently hit Hizbollah positions further north.

A Lebanese security source, requesting anonymity as they were not authorised to speak to the media, said one person was killed and 10 others wounded in Tuesday's strikes.

It was not immediately clear if the person killed was a fighter or a civilian.

The strikes destroyed a building in Sarain, less than 20 kilometres from eastern Lebanon's Baalbek, a key Hizbollah bastion near the border with Syria.

Another strike hit a building in the nearby town of Nabi Sheet, the source added.

The Israeli army said in a statement that "fighter jets struck two Hizbollah military command centres in the area of Baalbek, deep inside Lebanon", adding that Hizbollah used the sites to store "significant assets used to strengthen its weapons arsenal".

The army said the strikes came in retaliation for Hizbollah rocket "launches toward northern Israel" earlier Tuesday.

Hizbollah had said it launched "more than a hundred Katyusha rockets" at two military bases in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

That barrage came "in response to the Israeli attacks on our people, villages and cities, most recently near the city of Baalbek and the killing of a citizen", the group had said in a statement.

On Monday, another Israeli air strike near Baalbek — around 100 kilometres from the border — killed one person, a security source had said.

The Israeli military had said its jets had hit two sites belonging to “Hizbollah’s aerial forces” in retaliation for strikes on the occupied Golan Heights over several days.

On February 26, Israeli strikes targeted Baalbek, killing two Hizbollah members, the first strikes on the Iran-backed group outside Lebanon’s south since the conflict erupted in October.

Earlier on Tuesday, Hizbollah said its chief Hassan Nasrallah met with Khalil Al Hayya, a leading member of Hamas’s political bureau.

They discussed ceasefire talks for the Gaza war, as well as attacks by Hamas’s regional allies to support its war efforts, the Hizbollah statement said.

Nasrallah is due to give a televised speech on Wednesday.

Hizbollah has repeatedly said it will only stop its attacks on Israel with a ceasefire in Gaza.

But Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant recently said any truce in Gaza would not change Israel’s goal of pushing Hizbollah out of southern Lebanon, by force or diplomacy.

Since the start of the Hamas-Israel war in October, at least 318 people, mainly Hizbollah fighters but also at least 54 civilians, have been killed in Lebanon, according to an AFP tally.


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