Israel violates truce, as first French troops arrive in Lebanon
Lebanese security and Hizbullah sources said Israeli aircraft and commandos raided a Hizbullah stronghold in eastern Lebanon early on Saturday just hours after the U.N. appealed to European countries for peacekeepers.
The Lebanese security source said warplanes and helicopters attacked unidentified targets during an air drop of commandos at dawn around the village of Bodai, west of the city of Baalbek in the Bekaa Valley, not far from the Syrian border.
Such an assault would be the first major attack since a U.N. truce ended 34 days of fighting between Israel and Hizuullah.
Hizuullah television reported its fighters clashed with Israeli commandos near Bodai and forced them to fly out under the cover of air strikes. It said the guerillas had inflicted "certain casualties" among the Israeli forces. The security source said the aircraft bombed roads leading to the village and a hillside to the west. Israel confirmed one of its officers died while sources in Lebanon said three Hizbullah fighters were killed in the clash.
The Israeli army said the raid was aimed at preventing smuggling of arms from Iran and Syria to Hizbullah. "Israeli army special forces operated deep inside Lebanon last night to foil terrorist operations against Israel," an army spokesman told AFP.
"The operation was aimed at preventing the delivery of weapons to Hizbullah from Iran and Syria," he said, adding that "all goals were achieved."
"In the absence of a system monitoring the border (between Syria and Lebanon), Israel will continue operations to prevent the transfer of weapons to Hizbullah," the army spokesman said.
Meanwhile, some 50 French soldiers from an engineering unit arrived by sea Saturday in the southern coastal town of Naqoura and more were expected in coming days. "Today this is the first step... France is the first country to deploy additional troops in the region," Bertrand Bonneau, a spokesman for the French contingent, said.