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Israel Says Hezbollah Fighters Captured in Baalbek


The Israeli army says its forces captured three Hezbollah guerrillas after fierce fighting deep inside Lebanon, in the northeastern city of Baalbek in the Bekaa Valley.

Israeli airborne commandoes carried out an overnight raid on a Hezbollah-run hospital near the Lebanese-Syrian border in Baalbek, a Hezbollah stronghold.

An Israeli spokeswoman says Wednesday that the captured guerrillas were taken to Israel and that their names will be disclosed later.

Hezbollah has acknowledged in a statement broadcast on Al Manar television in Beirut that several people were captured, but denies that anyone involved was a guerrilla fighter.

An Israeli helicopter dropped the commando raiding party in Baalbek as warplanes high above bombed the city and the nearby village of Jamaliyeh. Lebanese security sources say at least 10 civilians died, and several houses were flattened.

Israel also carried out several other air strikes in Lebanon, destroying two bridges in the north and hitting an army post in the south of the country in the village of Sarba, where three Lebanese soldiers were killed.

Hezbollah fired a heavy barrage of rockets at towns across northern Israel today, but there were no immediate reports of injuries.

Israeli troops and Hezbollah are also locked in fierce battles at several fronts along the border in southern Lebanon, where three Israeli soldiers were killed and 25 others wounded during fighting on Tuesday.

Israel says its three-week offensive has killed several hundred guerrillas, but Hezbollah denies its losses have been that great.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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