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Israeli Planes Strike Lebanon

August 22, 1999

RASHAYA, Lebanon (AP) _ Israeli jets and helicopter gunships blasted guerrilla positions in southern Lebanon with missiles on Saturday after guerrilla attacks on Israeli troops, Lebanese security officials said.

Two guerrillas were killed in the fighting near the Israeli garrison of Sojod, officials of the pro-Israeli South Lebanon Army said. Neither the SLA nor the Israeli military in Jerusalem _ which confirmed the strikes _ said whether there were Israeli casualties.

Lebanese security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, could not confirm the casualty report.

The Hezbollah guerrilla group said the battle began when they attacked an Israeli infantry patrol in the late afternoon in the area of Sojod in the border zone occupied by Israel. The Sojod garrison faces the Iqlim al-Tuffah highlands, a stronghold of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah.

Lebanese officials said Israel called in fighter jets and helicopter gunships to support its soldiers and fired artillery shells. The firefight lasted more than an hour.

Later Saturday night, guerrillas struck at a different part of the front line, targeting with mortars the Israeli outpost of Blatt, two miles north of the Israeli border, the Lebanese officials said.

Israeli jets retaliated by firing two missiles near the village of Yater, an area outside the occupied zone facing Blatt, the officials added.

The battle follows heavy clashes in southern Lebanon on Tuesday claimed the lives of three guerrillas and two Israeli soldiers.

Earlier Saturday, a goatherd in southern Lebanon was seriously wounded in the chest and arms by the explosion of a long abandoned grenade.

Mohammed Shalhoub was herding goats outside the village of Qilya, when he apparently picked up the grenade, causing it to detonate, members of his family said.

Relatives and villagers said the grenade was a leftover from Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon when Israeli troops occupied nearly half of Lebanon.

In 1985, the Israelis withdrew to a zone along the frontier, which they maintain as a buffer against cross-border attacks by Lebanese guerrillas. Hezbollah is the most active of militant groups fighting to end the occupation.

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