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Israeli strikes hit near south Lebanon city of Sidon

By AFP - Feb 19,2024 - Last updated at Feb 19,2024

Smoke billows following an Israeli air raid on a reported hangar close to the main coastal highway in the southern Lebanese city town of Ghaziyeh, around 30 kilometres from the border with Israel, on Monday (AFP photo)

BEIRUT — At least two Israeli air strikes hit southern Lebanon on Monday near the coastal city of Sidon, state media and an AFP photographer said.

Hamas ally Hizbollah and its arch-foe Israel have been exchanging near-daily fire across the border since the Hamas-Israel war broke out on October 7.

"Israeli warplanes carried out... strikes on the town of Ghaziyeh," the state-run National News Agency (NNA) said on Monday, adding that a vehicle was targeted and ambulances rushed to the scene, without providing further details.

While most the exchanges in recent months have been limited to areas near the frontier, Ghaziyeh is some 30 kilometres from the nearest Israeli frontier and less than 5 kilometres from the city of Sidon.

The AFP photographer reported the sound of at least two successive strikes in Ghaziyeh, with dark smoke billowing across the area.

One of the strikes appeared to have targeted a hangar close to the main coastal highway, the photographer added.

The NNA had earlier in the afternoon reported an “enemy drone” at low altitude over the Sidon area.

Video circulating on social media showed large plumes of smoke arising from at least two strikes.

The Israeli military last week said it killed a Hizbollah commander, his deputy and another fighter in a strike in the south Lebanon city of Nabatiyeh.

The strike on a residential building also killed seven members of the same family, according to a security source, while another strike elsewhere killed a woman, her child and stepchild.

On Friday, Hizbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah vowed that Israel would pay “with blood” for civilians it killed in Lebanon in recent days, warning the group had missiles that could reach anywhere in Israel.

He warned that his Iran-backed movement has “precision-guided missiles that can reach... Eilat”, on Israel’s Red Sea coast, well beyond the northern towns it usually targets.

The latest uptick in violence has caused international alarm, with fears growing of another full-blown war between Israel and Hizbollah like that of 2006.

Since October, cross-border exchanges have killed at least 269 people on the Lebanese side, most of them Hizbollah fighters but also including 40 civilians, according to an AFP tally.

On the Israeli side, 10 soldiers and six civilians have been killed, according to the Israeli forces.

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