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Israel Intensifies Bombardment of Lebanon


Israeli warplanes and artillery intensified their bombardment of Lebanon Friday on the 17th day of the offensive against Hezbollah.

Israeli warplanes pounded more than 100 targets in southern and eastern Lebanon, killing at least 12 people. The targets included a Hezbolllah base in the Bekaa valley near Syria where Israel says long-range rockets were stored.

Hezbollah announced it used a new, longer-range rocket named the Khaibar-1 that struck the Israeli town of Afula. It was the deepest rocket attack into Israel since the fighting broke out earlier this month. There were no reported injuries.

In other news, the United Nations is evacuating unarmed observers from outposts in southern Lebanon. The decision comes after four U.N. observers were killed by Israeli fire on Tuesday.

Lebanon's health minister (Muhammed Jawad Khalifeh) says up to 600 Lebanese, almost all civilians, are believed killed since the fighting began earlier this month.

Israel says it has killed 200 Hezbollah fighters since early July, while more than 50 Israelis, mostly soldiers, have been killed in cross-border fighting and Hezbollah rocket attacks.

In Tehran today, Iran denied providing weapons to Hezbollah. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told state television that if Iran was providing military support it would have announced it.

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