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Southern Lebanon Still Beset By Intense Fighting

Southern Lebanon Still Beset By Intense Fighting, Reports UN Mission

New York, Aug 8 2006

Heavy fighting continues to rage in southern Lebanon, the United Nations mission to the area reported today, with both the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) and Hizbollah firing either at or from the vicinity of UN peacekeeping posts over the past 24 hours.

Hizbollah “fired rockets in large numbers from various locations,” the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said in a news release issued from the Lebanese city of Naqoura. The mission added that the IDF conducted “intensive air strikes and shelling” throughout the mission’s area of operations.

There have also been ground exchanges between the two sides in at least 10 locations near the border, from the Mediterranean coast to near the frontier with Syria.

UNIFIL stated that Hizbollah fired rockets this morning from close to the UN post in Tibnin, and the IDF responded by carrying out air strikes in the area. A rocket originating from an unknown source landed near a UN post in Hinniyah, and there were two other incidents of Israeli firing – and one other of Hizbollah firing – close to UN positions yesterday, the mission said.

There were no injuries or damage to UNIFIL staff or property following these incidents, but the mission “strongly protested all these incidents to the Lebanese and Israeli authorities respectively.”

UNIFIL has also been involved in attempts to deliver water and other relief supplies to internally displaced Lebanese, as well as to provide medical assistance and shelter to civilians injured or left homeless in the town of Hula.

UNIFIL said it is also working with the Lebanese authorities to try to reopen the road between Tyre and Beirut by installing a provisional bridge – to replace those destroyed by Israeli air strikes – to allow humanitarian convoys to make the journey.

According to a statement released yesterday by the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Lebanon David Shearer, since the conflict erupted on 12 July, about 960 Lebanese, mostly civilians, have been killed. Almost 3,400 others have been injured and more than 915,000 people – or about one quarter of Lebanon’s population – have been forced to leave their homes. In Israel, 95 people have been killed, including 38 civilians, with many more injured.

ENDS

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