Skip to main content

 » Special Report | Video archive | E-mail us: Your stories | How to help civilians

Sources: U.S., France agree on peace plan

Hezbollah attack kills 2 Israeli civilians; Israel strikes Beirut
Families take a bus out of the southern suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon, on Thursday.



United Nations

BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- The main points of a resolution to end fighting between Israel and Hezbollah have been agreed to by the U.S. and France, diplomatic sources said Thursday.

John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said council members hope to vote Friday on the resolution, but "we're not there yet."

Under the plan, the Lebanese army and an expanded U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon will deploy to southern Lebanon in parallel with an Israeli withdrawal, the sources said, adding that Hezbollah forces will move north.

The timing of the UNIFIL deployment had been a key sticking point in negotiations.

Parts of the plan still need to be worked out, the sources said, and the various governments involved need to agree on it.

Earlier Thursday, Israel bombed the heart of Beirut and seized a mainly Christian town in southern Lebanon as it took its fight against Hezbollah into new realms.

Israeli jets dropped leaflets across Beirut, calling on residents of the city's southern suburbs -- a Hezbollah stronghold -- to evacuate.

Hezbollah continued firing rockets into northern Israel, killing a child and another civilian in the village of Deir al Assad, Israeli ambulance services said.

At least 123 Israelis, including 40 civilians, and 834 Lebanese, mostly civilians, have been killed in 30 days of conflict, according to local authorities.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan pushed the Security Council to come up with a peace plan by the end of the week to stop "the nightmare" inflicted on Israeli and Lebanese civilians since the conflict began on July 12, when Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers and killed three others in a raid into northern Israel. (Watch how world leaders are tackling obstacles to peace -- 3:11)

Israeli troops and armor moved into southern Lebanon overnight after pounding the area with artillery. Lebanese military sources and U.N. observers in the area said Israeli troops and Hezbollah guerrillas clashed near the Hezbollah stronghold of Khiyam early Thursday.

The Israelis also moved into the largely Christian town of Marjeyoun in an effort to root out the Hezbollah fighters who have fired more than 3,000 rockets into Israel since the conflict began. One Israeli soldier was killed and two wounded in the area Thursday morning, the Israel Defense Forces reported.

A Lebanese military source said Israeli troops backed by five tanks moved into a Lebanese army base in Marjeyoun, meeting no resistance from the garrison of about 350 soldiers and police.

Acting Interior Minister Ahmed Fatfat said negotiations to release the troops were under way "at the highest levels" late Thursday, involving the United States and France. He said the troops had no orders to fight Israelis and had been providing humanitarian aid in the area.

Exchanges of fire raged across southern Lebanon "with heightened intensity" over the previous 24 hours, according to the UNIFIL, the world body's observer mission.

"Hezbollah fired rockets in significantly larger numbers from various locations. The IDF intensified shelling and aerial bombardment across the south," UNIFIL said.

Israeli warplanes targeted Ras Beirut -- the upscale, international and prestigious western section regarded as the city's heart -- for the first time Thursday. The Hezbollah-dominated southern suburbs of Beirut have been the main targets before.

A lighthouse used as a cell phone communications tower was struck and damaged in the upscale Beirut neighborhood where former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri lived.

Other attacks north of the Lebanese capital hit three state radio towers, which have been frequent targets in the conflict.

'Fierce and painful retaliation'

Leaflets dropped in Beirut said the Israeli military intends to "enlarge and expand its operations inside of Beirut" and said Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah was "gambling with the future of Lebanon."

The leaflets urged residents of Beirut's mostly Shiite south side, a bastion of support for Hezbollah, to evacuate "for your safety."

"Be aware!" the fliers read. "The expansion of Hezbollah terrorist operations will lead to a fierce and painful retaliation, and its results won't be only on Hassan's gang and its criminals."

Other notices dropped in northern Lebanon said any type of truck moving on a coastal road "will be suspected of transporting rockets, military ammunitions and terrorists."

"Be aware that anybody using pick-ups or trucks puts his life in danger," the leaflet warned.

Diplomatic efforts continue

As discussions continued on the American and French plan, Russia's ambassador to the U.N., Vitaly Churkin, proposed a 72-hour cease-fire to allow for humanitarian aid deliveries.

Bolton called the proposal a "diversion" and "not helpful." The United States -- which, like Russia, holds veto power in the Security Council -- has resisted previous pressure to call for a cease-fire, arguing that a more permanent resolution to the conflict was needed.

But Churkin said Moscow reached the conclusion that the humanitarian situation in Lebanon was "getting catastrophic," with U.N. relief agencies reporting that they have been unable to reach 200,000 displaced persons in the country.

The main part of the U.S.-France plan still under discussion was whether the U.N. contingent -- a beefed-up version of the existing observer mission UNIFIL -- would have the authority to use force, sources said. The United States supports giving the U.N. mission the Chapter 7 mandate for force, as do countries likely to contribute troops to the force.

"It's possible that we can have a vote tomorrow, and that's our aspiration," Bolton said as he headed into a meeting with French and Arab League representatives. "But we need to solve these issues the right way, and that's what we're working on."

French Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere would not comment on reports that a deal was near. But British officials said that Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett was headed to New York on Thursday for discussions on Lebanon and a possible vote, and Prime Minister Tony Blair said there was a potential for a deal to be struck within 24 hours.

CNN's Jim Clancy, Richard Roth and Liz Neisloss contributed to this report.

Story Tools
Subscribe to Time for $1.99 cover
Top Stories
Get up-to-the minute news from CNN gives you the latest stories and video from the around the world, with in-depth coverage of U.S. news, politics, entertainment, health, crime, tech and more.
Top Stories
Get up-to-the minute news from CNN gives you the latest stories and video from the around the world, with in-depth coverage of U.S. news, politics, entertainment, health, crime, tech and more.

© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines