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Airstrikes, Fighting Continue in Lebanon, as Security Council Seeks to Stop Major Attacks

Israeli aircraft continued strikes across south Lebanon early Sunday and ground battles raged between Israeli and Hezbollah forces inside the Lebanese border. Lebanese officials report at least 15 people killed. In Israel, 11 soldiers were killed, when Hezbollah launched a rocket attack on a northern border town.

Lebanese officials say the casualties from the latest Israeli air strikes were in the southern villages of Ansar and Naqoura, where civilians were killed when their houses were struck by Israeli missiles. Heavy shelling was also reported in the eastern Bekaa Valley and around the Litani River. At least one Lebanese soldier was killed and another was wounded when their checkpoint in the town of Mansouri was hit in an Israeli airstrike.

Hezbollah fighters and Israeli forces clashed in several villages close to the border, as Israel sought to advance deeper inside Lebanese territory on the 26th day of hostilities.

Meanwhile, south of the city of Tyre, the United Nations says three Chinese peacekeepers were injured when a mortar round apparently fired by Hezbollah militants slammed into their headquarters.

International efforts to halt the fighting are continuing in New York, where the United Nations Security Council is getting closer to agreeing on the language of a resolution aimed at halting large scale attacks.

But Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, whose Shi'ite Amal movement is aligned with Hezbollah, told reporters Sunday the draft resolution is unacceptable because it would allow Israeli forces to remain on Lebanese soil.

Berri says, "Lebanon, all of Lebanon, rejects any talks and or any draft resolution that does not include the seven-point government framework." That seven-point plan was presented by the Lebanese government last week, and calls for, among other things, an immediate ceasefire and the immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops.

Syria's foreign minister, Walid Mouallem, was in Lebanon Sunday for the first time since Damascus withdrew its forces from the country 15 months ago, after a nearly 30-year presence.

He told reporters Syria does not support the draft resolution being circulated by the United States and France, and Damascus joins Lebanon in rejecting it.

He echoed Lebanese demands, saying, in order for the violence to stop, there must be an immediate ceasefire and a full withdrawal of Israeli troops from Lebanon.

At President Bush's ranch in Crawford Texas, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters, the draft resolution does not anticipate a complete Israeli withdrawal in the first phase. But she said it is a good basis for ending large-scale violence.