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Israel, Hezbollah battle across Lebanese border


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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Cross-border fighting broke out early Friday between Israeli forces and the Hezbollah militia in the disputed Shebaa Farms region along the border with Lebanon, the Israel Defense Forces and Hezbollah said.

According to the IDF, Hezbollah shelled Israeli outposts in the Har Dov area overnight, with the Israeli air force and army artillery returning fire into Lebanon.

A Hezbollah statement took a different take, saying "Israeli occupying forces clashed with a Hezbollah advanced position during an infiltration in the direction of the liberated territory and across the blue line" -- the Israeli-Lebanon border.

"The incident resulted in a number of casualties and injuries of Israeli army forces and a fierce battle is still ongoing," Hezbollah said.

Shebaa Farms is an area near the poorly defined borders of Israel, Lebanon and Syria that Israel captured during the 1967 Six-Day War.

Syria says Shebaa is part of Lebanon. Lebanon agrees Shebaa is its territory, but Israel says Shebaa farms are part of the Golan Heights.

Israeli diplomats say Shebaa farms could not be part of Lebanon because a May 2000 U.N. report certified that Israel had withdrawn entirely from Lebanon (in compliance with U.N. Resolution 425). The U.N. position is that the area is part of Israeli-occupied Syria.

The United States has designated Hezbollah as a terrorist group.

Elsewhere, Israeli forces overnight killed two wanted Palestinian militants and took into custody a third in the Nur a Shams refugee camp near the West Bank town of Tulkarem, Israeli military sources said Friday.

The troops surrounded a home, calling on the three militants inside -- members of Islamic Jihad -- to surrender. According to the sources, one of the militants gave up, while the other two died in an firefight with Israeli forces.

In the village of Salem near Nablus, Israeli forces early Friday uncovered a car bomb, the sources said.

The car was loaded with 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of explosives and also contained three armed explosive devices. The Israeli forces destroyed the car in a controlled explosion.


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