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Israel-Hezbollah Ceasefire Takes Effect, Some Israeli Troops Withdraw

A U.N.-mediated ceasefire has begun to take hold across Lebanon as Israeli forces and Hezbollah militants stop their attacks after more than a month of conflict.

No clashes have been reported since the ceasefire took effect Monday at 8 a.m. local time, or 0500 UTC. The fighting continued up to the final minutes before the deadline.

Israeli military officials say some troops pulled out of southern Lebanon after the truce began, but they say most Israeli soldiers will hold positions they seized in recent days.

Thousands of displaced Lebanese are jamming the highways as they begin the slow journey home to their villages in the south. Most of the roads and bridges in southern Lebanon were bombed by Israel during the 34-day conflict.

The VOA correspondent in Beirut says traffic is returning to normal, and another correspondent in the southern port of Tyre says the sound of Israeli air and artillery strikes had stopped.

Israeli military officials say their air and sea blockade of Lebanon will continue until an international system is in place to prevent arms shipments to Hezbollah.

The Israeli and Lebanese governments each say they will observe the truce. Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, said his forces also will abide by the U.N. agreement, but added Hezbollah will continue its fight until all Israeli troops leave Lebanon.

The U.N. special envoy to the Middle East, Alvaro de Soto, says the ceasefire will be strengthened by an expanded U.N. peacekeeping force, which will help Lebanese troops deploy to the south of the country.

Lebanese security officials say Israeli warplanes raided Hezbollah targets in eastern Lebanon and dropped anti-Hezbollah leaflets on Beirut shortly before 8 a.m. Monday.

Lebanese officials say Israeli aircraft also killed seven people in the eastern village of Brital in the Bekaa Valley late Sunday.

Israel says seven of its soldiers were killed Sunday, and that Hezbollah fired 250 rockets across the border, killing one civilian. Military officials say they foiled Hezbollah's attempts to attack Israel with aerial drones and a truck packed with explosives.

Israeli forces say they shot down one drone above southern Lebanon and another over northern Israel. Troops intercepted the truck bomb in southern Lebanon and detonated the vehicle in a controlled explosion.

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