Photo: AP
IDF soldiers in Lebanon
Photo: AP
Photo: AP
Village of al-Khiam bombed
Photo: AP
Photo: Reuters
Cabinet meeting. Operation to be expanded
Photo: Reuters

Massive battles in Marjayoun

As part of operation which already began Tuesday, Israeli forces reach Christian town, taking up position on strategic hill overlooking Litani River valley, from where Hizbullah fires rockets at Israel. Exchanges of fire erupt Thursday morning between soldiers, Hizbullah members; several soldiers lightly hurt as Hizbullah fires anti-tank missile at supply convoy

Another day of battle in southern Lebanon: Exchanges of fire erupted Thursday morning on the eastern region between Israel Defense Forces soldiers and Hizbullah members in the area of the Marjayoun and the village of al-Khiam, north of Metula.


Hizbullah fighters fired an anti-tank missile at a military supply convoy and several soldiers were lightly injured.


Battles are also taking place near the village of Aytaroun on the western region. The soldiers encountered light weapon fire and anti-tank fire.


Local residents reported that an Israeli drone fired a missile into a minibus driving in the eastern Bekaa Valley, killing one person and wounding 12.


The attack occurred near the town of Rayak, about 5 kilometers (3 miles) east of the provincial capital of Zahle.


Lebanese sources reported that another Air Force Strike was directed at the road connecting Baalbek and the Syrian city of Khomes.


IDF forces advanced Wednesday night to Marjayoun, and took up positions around the Lebanese town, which is located 9 kilometers (5.6 miles) north of the border with Israel.


According to reports by local residents, the Israeli forces, accompanied by armored vehicles and tanks, took up positions at the northern entrance of the Christian town, which was used as the Israel Defense Forces' main base in the security zone until the withdrawal from southern Lebanon in the year 2000.



The forces did not encounter any resistance on their way north and also took up positions in the nearby village of Balat, enabling the IDF to overlook the Litani River valley. Marjayoun, Balat and another village in the area, Bourg al-Mouluk, are considered key points as they all overlook the valley from where Hizbullah is firing rockets at Israel.


An official source in Marjayoun told the al-Jazeera network that exchanges of fire took place in the area and bombardments were heard before the forces entered the town.


"Massive exchanges of fire were heard in Marjayoun from 3:30 a.m., and many bombardments took place at the entrance to the town. A petrol station burned and one house was also bombed," said Fouad al-Hamra, one of the town's senior officials.


"They arrived at around 3:30 a.m., we heard tanks. Now we see a great fired which has been ignited in the eastern part of the town," he added, stressing that there were no exchanges of fire inside the town between Hizbullah members and IDF fighters.


A Reuters correspondent reported that the soldiers marched into the town and the nearby villages, accompanied by tanks.


'Operation to take a week'


The operation at the Marjayoun area began before the cabinet's decision to expand the IDF's operation in Lebanon. According to the decision, which was approved on Wednesday, IDF soldiers will deploy in southern Lebanon up to the Litani River.


IDF officials estimated that this operation will take about a week. The taking up of positions in Marjayoun and the surrounding areas was aimed at enabling the army to continue its progress up north.


A senior IDF officer, who referred to the national security cabinet's decision to expand the operation, added that the forces will also need a period of time of four to six weeks to gain control of the land.


On Wednesday, the forces entered areas north of Metula and began operating in the southern Lebanese village of al-Khiam. The areas which the forces entered as being used to fire a large number of rockets at the Galilee panhandle, Kiryat Shmona and the area.


News agencies contributed to the report


פרסום ראשון: 08.10.06, 08:41
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