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Israel Confirms Expansion Of Ground Offensive


http://gdb.rferl.org/3CFA6274-0D63-4300-91EC-9FB79F8348F8_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/3CFA6274-0D63-4300-91EC-9FB79F8348F8_mw800_mh600.jpg Smoke rises above buildings in southern Beirut after the latest Israeli air strikes (epa) August 11, 2006 -- Five weeks after the conflict began, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert today ordered the expansion of Israel's ground offensive in Lebanon.


However, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said that Israel was still open to a negotiated solution, with the UN Security Council preparing to vote on a cease-fire deal.


The Israeli offensive is intended to root out Hizballah positions in southern Lebanon, from where rockets targeting Israel are launched.


During the day, UN peacekeepers managed to evacuate hundreds of Lebanese security forces and civilians from the southern town of Marjayun.


Police say that 500 cars carrying civilians left the town as well as 350 members of a joint police and army security force whose barracks are now occupied by Israeli troops.


(Reuters, AP, AFP)

The Middle East Crisis
Israeli tanks poised on the border with Lebanon on August 2 (epa)

CLASH OF ARMS: Since mid-July, Israel has been battling Hizballah guerrillas in southern Lebanon and carrying out punishing air strikes throughout the country. International efforts to broker a cease-fire have met with one obstacle after another, as civilian casualties mount and a humanitarian crisis unfolds. Since Hizballah is closely supported by Syria and Iran, the conflict threatens constantly to develop into a regional conflagration.... (more)


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