TEL AVIV (May. 25)
The Israeli air force continued to pound Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon over the weekend.
Jet fighter-bombers and helicopter gunships attacked Monday for the fifth time in a week. Artillery of the Israel Defense Force and its allied South Lebanon Army continued their intermittent bombardment of targets occupied by the pro-Iranian Islamic fundamentalist militia.
The air and artillery assaults pinpointed Hezbollah command posts and training camps, many located in the Bekaa Valley of eastern Lebanon, which is under de facto Syrian control.
Israeli leaders have warned Syria and Lebanon that the attacks will continue if Hezbollah and other hostile groups in southern Lebanon continue to attack IDF and SLA targets.
U.S. Secretary of State James Baker said he was trying to persuade Lebanon and Syria to impose constraints on Hezbollah and disarm it, as they have other Shi’ite militias in southern Lebanon. He reportedly informed Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy of his efforts when they met in Lisbon on Sunday.
Israel began its latest round of attacks after a well-executed Hezbollah ground attack on an SLA base in the southern Lebanon security zone last Tuesday. One SLA soldier was killed and four were captured.
It was the first time in more than two years that Hezbollah dared to mount a ground attack on the Israeli-equipped and trained SLA. Until then, Hezbollah resorted to ambushes, land mines and Katyusha rocket or mortar attacks.
Israel responded with heavy aerial and artillery bombardments, which have continued all week. Reports from the region said that at least 20,000 villagers have fled to the relative safety of Tyre and other towns on the Lebanese coast.
They were prompted to flee by Syrian radio broadcasts which predicted more Israeli attacks.