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Russia Concerned About Wider Middle East Conflict

A demonstration in Tehran against Israel's strikes against Lebanon on July 14 (epa) July 15, 2006 -- Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov warned today of what he said was a "real threat" that the other countries in the region could be drawn into the escalating Middle East crisis.

He described the crisis as "basically, a war that has begun." He called on the Hizballah militia group to stop using "terrorist methods" and said both sides must exercise restraint.

Meanwhile, Israeli warplanes today struck for the first time the no-man's land between Lebanon and Syria.

The air raid happened near the Lebanese border crossing at Masnaa. A Syrian Army position is located in the area.

No other details were immediately available. Israel accuses Syria, as well as Iran, of backing the Hizballah militants it is fighting in Lebanon.

Israeli aircraft today continued air strikes in Lebanon for a fourth straight day since Hizballah fighters seized two Israeli soldiers in northern Israel.

Lebanese police say in one air strike, at least 15 civilians fleeing villages in southern Lebanon were killed by a missile.

The Israeli Army said today it had struck about 150 targets in Lebanon so far, fewer than a dozen of them directly linked to Hizballah.

Several Hizballah rockets hit the Israeli town of Tiberias today, the deepest they have reached into Israeli territory. No casualties were reported.

Israel said Hizballah hit one of its warships off Beirut with an Iranian-made guided missile. Hizballah said it hit the warship on July 14 with an unmanned aircraft packed with explosives.

(compiled from agency reports)

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