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Lebanon Says Hezbollah Committed to Ceasefire


Lebanon's defense minister said Sunday he is certain Hezbollah will not violate a U.N.-brokered ceasefire with Israel, and has warned of harsh consequences for any violator in Lebanon.

Defense Minister Elias Murr's warning comes a day after Israeli commandos conducted a raid in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley.

Israel says it launched the mission to prevent Syria and Iran from transferring weapons to Hezbollah militants in Lebanon. But Lebanese officials and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan criticized the operation as a violation of the week-old truce.

Sunday, Murr said any rocket that is fired from inside Lebanese territory would be considered as collaboration with Israel, because it would provide a pretext for the Israelis to strike at Lebanon. He added that any group that breaks the cease-fire would be committing treason and would suffer the consequences.

Murr said he believes Hezbollah is committed to the U.N. resolution that ended the hostilities and would not violate it. His warning indicates he is concerned that factions other than Hezbollah, such as Palestinian groups in Lebanon, might try to draw retaliation from Israel by firing at it.

The defense minister also warned that Israel would have to fight the Lebanese army if there is another violation of the truce. The Lebanese army began deploying 15,000 troops to the south on Thursday. During the more than month of fighting between Hezbollah and Israel, Lebanon's army did not take part in the conflict.

U.N. Envoy Terje Roed-Larsen said in Beirut that the Israeli raid was "unhelpful" and he warned that the ceasefire is very fragile.

"We also do believe that, unfortunately, we are at a potential tilting edge where things very easily within the next few weeks and months can slide out of control," said Terje Roed-Larsen.

Also Sunday, Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora for the first time visited the devastated Shiite suburbs south of Beirut. He called the destruction from Israeli air strikes a crime against humanity.

Mr. Siniora said once again Lebanon will rebuild and the country would remain despite Israel's violence.

In Cairo Sunday, Arab League foreign ministers held an emergency meeting. An official said the ministers would discuss a plan to create an Arab League fund for Lebanon's reconstruction.

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