War with Syria in South Lebanon is Unlikely, Israeli Leaders Say

Israeli leaders issued reassuring statements Tuesday that war is not likely to break out in southern Lebanon, despite the sequence of Hezbollah attacks and Israeli retaliation in the past week.

Foreign Minister David Levy and Defense Minister Moshe Arens said they do not believe Syria wants war at this time. According to the Israelis, Syria exerts de facto control in Lebanon and could restrain Hezbollah if it wanted to.

In fact, southern Lebanon was quiet Wednesday evening. For the first time in eight days there were no reports of hostile activity by either side.

The calm followed extensive Israeli air raids Tuesday. According to air force sources, eight aircraft attacked Hezbollah installations in the villages of Jabi Shafi, Jarjour, Aine Bouswar and Milta, all in the Iklim al-Tofah region northeast of Tyre.

At least two people were killed and 17 injured in the raids, which lasted over an hour.

On Monday, the Israeli air force struck at Jibsheet, Dardghaya and Majdal Silim villages. A local Hezbollah leader, Yasser Nassour, 33, his wife and two daughters were reportedly killed when Israeli bombers scored a direct hit on their home.

Israel blames Hezbollah for causing the flight of tens of thousands of Shi’ite villagers from southern Lebanon.

According to the Israelis, if the extremist, fundamentalist Iranian-backed guerrillas had not entrenched themselves in the region, their villages would not have been attacked.

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