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Israel Army Chief Vows Limited Ground Operations in Lebanon


Israel's Army Chief of Staff, Lt. General Dan Halutz said the military will send ground forces into Lebanon as needed. Israeli troops have already begun massing along the Lebanese border and additional reservists have been called for duty.

Several thousand reservists have been called to active duty and throughout the day Friday Israeli troops and equipment massed along the Lebanese border.

Israeli soldiers have engaged in fierce gun battles with Hezbollah fighters inside Lebanon in recent days and indications were a larger offensive was to follow.

Speaking at a nationally televised news conference, Army Chief of Staff, Dan Halutz said Israel would send ground forces into Lebanon as needed.

But, the general spoke of what he called limited ground operations.

He said 100 Hezbollah fighters had so far been killed in the offensive but provided no details.

Israel has been carrying out daily air strikes across Lebanon since the hostilities began over a week ago. The focus, the military says, are suspected Hezbollah strongholds, particularly in the south of the country. Israeli planes have dropped leaflets warning civilians living within 30 kilometers of the border with Israel to leave.

Hezbollah has sent hundreds of rockets into northern Israel over the past 10 days.

U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice announced Friday she will travel to the region on Sunday to promote a diplomatic solution to the crisis. "The goal of my trip is to work with our partners to help create conditions that can lead to a lasting and sustainable end to the violence," he said.

Rice will also attend an international conference in Rome next week to discuss the conflict.

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