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Lebanon Begins Fundraising for Army

Lebanon is establishing a fund to help raise money to equip its military, after the United States announced it was suspending military aid to the country.

Defense Minister Elias al-Murr, announcing the new fund Saturday, said it would seek donations, in part, from Lebanese people living abroad.

The minister said he and his father, a legislator, have deposited one billion Lebanese pounds ($670,000) into the account.

U.S. lawmakers put a "hold" (suspended) delivery of $100 million in military aid due to concerns about the growing influence of Hezbollah on Lebanon's army.

The American lawmakers' action followed a deadly border clash between Lebanon and Israel this month.

The exchange of fire killed two Lebanese soldiers, a journalist and a senior Israeli officer. It was the most serious fighting since the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah.

In another development, the Lebanese military says its forces have killed two Islamist militants, including a senior member of an al-Qaida inspired group.

Military officials say Abdul-Rahman Awad, a leader of the group Fatah al-Islam, was killed in the operation in eastern Bekka Valley.

Fatah al-Islam battled the Lebanese army for three months in 2007 at a Palestinian refugee camp near Tripoli. The fighting killed more than 300 people, about half of them were soldiers.

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