Israeli forces are engaged in fierce fighting with Hezbollah guerrillas on the ground near a Hezbollah stronghold in the Bekaa Valley, along the Syrian border.

A Hezbollah spokesman says militants have surrounded a hospital early Wednesday in the northeastern Lebanese town of Baalbek, and that Israeli soldiers are trapped inside.

Reports say Israeli aircraft have attacked Hezbollah positions in the region.

The Israeli military would not comment on the operation in Baalbek, and there has been no official word on casualties.

Israeli troops and Hezbollah guerillas are also fighting fierce battles in southern Lebanon. The Israeli army said three of its soldiers were killed Tuesday in the Lebanese town of Aita al-Shaab. The army also said 25 Israeli soldiers were wounded.

The latest fighting comes after the Israeli government approved expanded ground operations in Lebanon.

Israeli officials said troops have killed several hundred Hezbollah fighters during the three- week offensive, a figure Hezbollah denies.

Hezbollah rocket attacks against civilian targets in Israel have declined in recent days.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.