News Brief – Friday July 21, 2006
Israel began calling up reserve troops today as it warned residents to flee the Hezbollah controlled southern Lebanon.
Both are viewed as indicative of an imminent Israeli ground offensive against Hezbollah.
Israeli forces are already raiding southern Lebanon but observers say the call-up could signal a widening of the Israeli offensive.
The call-up came as Israel dropped leaflets on southern Lebanon warning residents to immediately evacuate an area approximately 32km (20 miles) wide.
Lebanese Defence Minister Elias Murr said the country's army would go into battle if Israel invaded Lebanon.
Foreigners in Lebanon are being evacuated in anticipation of an intensified Israeli offensive that has thus far killed at least 300 Lebanese, mostly civilians.
Meanwhile, Israel confirmed five of its troops were killed in clashes along the border yesterday and said two of its helicopters collided near the Lebanese border, killing a pilot and three crewmen.
In addtion Hezbollah claimed to have destroyed two Israeli tanks in house-to-house fighting in the village of Maroun al-Ras, losing two of its fighters in the clashes.
According to sources inside Hezbollah, it remains defiant and relatively unscathed by the Israeli offensive. Making it all the more likely that Israel will launch a widespread ground offensive in Hezbollah’s southern Lebanon stronghold soon.
Last updated 22/07/2006