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Israel Warns Syria on Lebanon Border Security


Israel has warned Syria it will not permit a further deterioration of the situation along its northern border with Lebanon and has called on the United States to stress that point to the Damascus government.

On Sunday night, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon convened a special meeting of senior military officials on the situation.

Senior Sharon advisor Raanan Gissen said afterward that Israel has no intention of escalating the situation, but he added that the country will not tolerate further attacks. He said Syria bears responsibility for not fulfilling a United Nations resolution following the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon three years ago.

"It was Syria's responsibility to ensure that Lebanese troops deploy along the border and that Hezbollah be removed form there and, as a matter of fact, expelled from Lebanon as well as Syria, and that did not happen," Mr. Gissen said.

Israeli warplanes bombed Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon Sunday, after cross-border artillery fire from the guerrilla group killed an Israeli teenager and wounded four others in the Israeli town, Shlomi.

Hezbollah said it fired anti-aircraft shells at Israeli warplanes that had intruded into Lebanese airspace and was not targeting the town. Israeli military officials said there were no Israeli aircraft in the area when the shelling began.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan condemned Sunday's shelling and called on governments with influence over Hezbollah to deter it from further actions and urged Israel to exercise restraint. Both Iran and Syria back Hezbollah.

The Israeli air raid followed artillery exchanges Friday between Israel and Hezbollah in the disputed Shebaa Farms border region. Shebaa Farms is occupied by Israel and claimed by both Syria and Lebanon. The United Nations says the area belongs to Syria and that Syria and Israel should negotiate its future.

Israel withdrew its forces from southern Lebanon in May 2000 following a 22-year occupation.

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