IDF Strikes Kill at Least 59 in Lebanon

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Fifty-nine Lebanese civilians and Hezbollah fighters were killed yesterday in Israeli attacks, bringing the death toll in Lebanon to around 300.

During the morning, 46 Lebanese were killed across the country, 17 of them in an attack on the village of Srifa in South Lebanon. Several village buildings were badly hit and rescue operations were delayed because of a lack of efficient rescue forces to help residents trapped after IDF bombings. Another 13 Lebanese were killed in the afternoon, some of them Hezbollah operatives.

For the first time, Israel yesterday attacked one of Beirut's Christian quarters, Ashrafiyeh. Israeli planes targeted two trucks there that were suspected of ferrying weapons to Hezbollah.

The IDF yesterday called on hundreds of thousands of residents in all the villages in South Lebanon, up to the Litani river, to leave home and head northward. The call came in preparation for a broader assault on the area, where many of Hezbollah's Katyusha launchers are located.

The IDF order was issued on a radio station that broadcasts in Arabic from Israel, as well as through flyers distributed in the region yesterday.

Military sources said that at this stage the IDF had no plans for an extensive ground operation deep in Lebanon, but that clearing the villages would enable more massive fire power to be used there.

At a press conference in Beirut yesterday, Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora called on the international community to intervene immediately. "Do not disappoint us and do not watch from the sidelines as Lebanon is shattered," he pleaded with foreign ambassadors after meeting with them and asked for humanitarian aid.

Siniora said that besides the high death toll, some 1,000 Lebanese had been hurt by Israeli attacks. "Houses, factories, infrastructure, army posts and even United Nations positions have been bombed. Is this what you call self-defense?" he asked regarding British and American announcements that Israel was entitled to defend itself. "Do you want to help the government? Let me tell you something, no government can survive on the ruins of a nation."

Syrian President Bashar Assad spoke by phone yesterday with Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Turkish news agency reported that Assad called for an immediate cease-fire to end Israeli aggression against Lebanon, and accused the international community of dragging its feet.



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