Israel has returned to Lebanon the bodies of three Hezbollah militants who were killed in cross-border fighting earlier this week.

Israeli military officials say the bodies were returned in an effort to defuse tensions and following a request from Lebanon.

Red Cross officials brought the bodies to the Lebanese border, where hundreds of black-clad Hezbollah fighters were waiting.

The three were killed Monday when they crossed into Israel during some of the heaviest fighting along the border since Israeli troops withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000. A fourth Hezbollah fighter was killed, but his body was quickly retrieved by the Lebanese. Eleven Israeli soldiers were wounded in the fighting.

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