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South Lebanon Tense for 10th Anniversary of Israeli Withdrawal

Monday marks the 10th anniversary of the Israeli pullout from southern Lebanon, and as Israel conducts military maneuvers and drills along the border, tensions are rising. Tough talk from neighboring Syria is causing more worries.

Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon, very suddenly and weeks ahead of schedule, this day 10 years ago. People gather to hear a song that celebrates the event, capturing the enthusiasm of many Lebanese Shi'ites, who had fought a guerilla war of attrition against Israel until that day.

As the Lebanese government officially marks the day that it refers to as the "liberation of the south," tensions along the border with Israel, and throughout the region have reached a frenetic pitch. Many Lebanese politicians worry openly about war in the pages of the Beirut press.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al Hariri is also due to meet shortly with U.S. President Barack Obama, to discuss mounting regional and local tensions.

During the weekend, the Hezbollah militant group said it is conducting military drills, arguing that they were in response to large-scale maneuvers in neighboring Israel. A top Hezbollah leader even said recently that his group hopes to "liberate" all of Israel, from what he calls the "Zionist enemy."

He says that it is normal that Hezbollah's dreams and aspirations should be to liberate Jerusalem, as well as all of Palestine, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, in addition to every inch of Arab land occupied by what he calls the "Zionist enemy" and until all the land is returned to its rightful Palestinian owners.

Neighboring Syria has also reportedly bolstered the war capabilities of its Hezbollah ally, amid accusations that it has been delivering various weapons and rockets to the group. Hezbollah is designated a terrorist group by the State Department.

During a news conference with the visiting German foreign minister, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al Muallem denied Damascus had delivered SCUD missiles to Hezbollah, despite accusations by Israel. But he said Syria would do nothing to stop Hezbollah from arming itself.

He says that even if Syria gave that kind of SCUD missile to Hezbollah, the group would not accept, because the missiles do not fit the kind of guerilla warfare they are fighting. But he adds so long as there is an occupation and so long as there is a state of war, Syria will not be Israel's policeman.