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Israel attacks Syrian positions in Lebanon



BAALBEK, Lebanon (CNN) -- Israeli warplanes struck Syrian radar positions in Lebanon Sunday, injuring at least three Syrian soldiers and at least one Lebanese soldier.

Lebanese officials said the Syrian position returned fire with anti-aircraft missiles, but the Israeli Army reported all its planes returned safely to base.

The Israeli Army said the strike was responding to the injury of two Israeli soldiers Friday in a mortar attack near the Shebaa Farms area on the border with Lebanon in northern Israel that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) blames on Hezbollah guerrillas.

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Israel responds to attacks by Hezbollah guerrillas. CNN's Mike Hanna reports (July 1)

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CNN's Brent Sadler: 'Carbon copy' of earlier attack
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The Israeli attack, which destroyed two radar positions, took place in eastern Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, where many Syrian troops are deployed.

Israel believes that Hezbollah activities are carried out with the support of the Syrians, who have armed forces stationed in Lebanon.

IDF warned in a statement that it would respond with "all available means" to Hezbollah attacks to protect Israeli civilians and soldiers on the northern border.

Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer said Sunday the "murderous activity occurs with the knowledge and under the eyes of Syria."

He called upon Lebanon to deploy its army along the border.

Hezbollah has vowed to continue its fight until Israel withdraws its troops from Shebaa Farms.

"The Israelis did not listen to what has been said in the past and are gambling and playing with the fire," warned Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah.

Hezbollah has launched sporadic raids on Israeli troops in Shebaa over the past year, claiming Israel's military withdrawal from southern Lebanon last May was incomplete without the return of Shebaa.

The United Nations rejects this claim, asserting that Shebaa is Syrian territory and therefore a matter for the Israelis and the Syrians, not the Lebanese.

In a separate action, two Palestinians were killed in a shootout with Israeli soldiers Sunday near the West Bank town of Jenin, Israeli Army officials told CNN.

The IDF said the Palestinians opened fire on the soldiers when they approached them on the road leading to two Israeli settlements. In the ensuing fire fight two Palestinians were killed.

The IDF said explosives were found with the bodies of the two men and that it believes the two were attempting to plant the explosives on the road leading to two Israeli settlements outside of Jenin.

The United States called for "maximum restraint" after Sunday's airstrikes.

"We have been in touch with all the parties urging all sides to exercise maximum restraint," a State Department official told CNN. "We want all parties to avoid provocative actions. We regret the casualties."

Hezbollah has launched sporadic raids on Israeli troops in Shebaa over the past year, claiming Israel's military withdrawal from southern Lebanon last May was incomplete without the return of Shebaa to Lebanon.

The United Nations rejects this claim, asserting that Shebaa is Syrian territory and therefore a matter for the Israelis and the Syrians, not the Lebanese.

Staffan De Mistura, U.N. representative to South Lebanon, said the developments were destabilizing to the region.

"For the first time, we are getting into a tit-for-tat syndrome," he said. "Everybody is playing with fire here. And we must put water on fire. Nobody can win this situation, everybody has been losing during the last 48 hours -- victims and lives -- and there is no military solution to this."





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• Israel Defense Force
• Lebanese Armed Forces
• Syria Gate

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