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Israel Continues Assaults on Lebanon, Diplomats Meet at UN


Israeli officials say the government has ordered the military to launch its expanded ground offensive against Hezbollah guerrillas in southern Lebanon. The news came as both sides launched more attacks Friday, while at the United Nations, diplomats attempted to resolve differences on a draft resolution ending the fighting.

Israeli jets pounded a key border crossing at Abboudiyeh into Syria in northern Lebanon early Friday. Israeli security officials said its jets twice struck a busy bridge.

Israeli jets also again attacked the southern suburb of Beirut, Dahieh, which is a Hezbollah stronghold.

At least 20 powerful explosions were felt across the Lebanese capital early Friday morning.

Arab media reports say one Israeli soldier died and at least one other suffered serious wounds in clashes with Hezbollah Friday in southern Lebanon. Meanwhile, Hezbollah fired another barrage of rockets into northern Israel, wounding at least two people

As the attacks continued, Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora met again with U.S. Undersecretary of State David Welch in central Beirut Friday.

Lebanon has called for Israeli troops to start pulling out, once hostilities end and Beirut sends 15,000 of its own troops to the south.

But Israel has insisted on staying in southern Lebanon until a strong international force is deployed, which could take weeks or months. The Israeli security cabinet has authorized Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to expand Israel's current offensive in Lebanon.

Meanwhile, at the United Nations Security Council, discussions continue in an effort to resolve differences on a draft resolution to end the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah.

At least 900 Lebanese, most of them civilians, have been killed since the fighting began July 12th. About 120 Israelis, mostly soldiers, have also died.

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