Israeli Warplanes Strike Southern Suburbs of Beirut

Published July 17, 2006

| Associated Press

Israeli warplanes launched waves of bombings on south Beirut, on a Lebanese army base and on a coastal road north of the Lebanese capital in the early hours Tuesday, witnesses and Lebanese media said.

The first strikes caused a big explosion that reverberated across Beirut.

Black smoke billowed from the southern suburbs, a Hezbollah stronghold, which have been repeatedly bombed since Israel launched a military offensive on Lebanon last Wednesday after the guerrillas captured two Israeli soldiers.

The planes returned 15 minutes later and fired three more missiles on the deserted neighborhood, devastated by almost daily Israeli attacks in the past few days. The new raid caused three major explosions to shake the capital.

CountryWatch: Israel | Lebanon

In a third overnight air raid on Beirut, warplanes again pounded the southern Shiite Muslim neighborhood, along with an area near Beirut's airport, witnesses and Lebanese media said. Four major blasts were heard.

Israeli fighter-jets also struck a military base in Kfar Chima, a town just south of the capital, local television stations reported. There was no immediate confirmation from the Lebanese army.

Shortly before daybreak, Israeli jets hit two trucks, one of them carrying concrete, on the coastal road in the port town of Byblos north of Beirut, local TV stations said. No casualties were reported.

Apparently, the trucks were being targeted by the Israelis for fear they might be carrying arms or missiles for Hezbollah.

The Byblos raid came after Israeli military officials said an airstrike Monday had destroyed at least one long-range Iranian missile capable of hitting Tel Aviv.

Israeli officials said the destroyed missile was an Iranian-made "Zalzal," which has a range of about 120 kilometers (80 miles). Iranian media said such missiles had a range of 200 kilometers (125 miles).

In eastern Lebanon, Israeli warplanes fired four missiles on residential areas in the city of Baalbek, witnesses said. There was no word on casualties. Baalbek, targeted by Israeli warplanes in the past few days, is also a Hezbollah stronghold.

• A brief history of the Lebanese-Israeli conflict.

By nightfall Monday, 210 Lebanese had been reported killed in the six days of ferocious fighting between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas. The latest victims — nine civilians, including two children — died in an afternoon airstrike on a bridge near the southern port city of Sidon, Lebanese officials said. At least 24 Israelis have been killed so far.

In their attacks on the southern suburbs, Israeli fighter-jets have targeted the teeming Haret Hreik neighborhood that formerly housed Hezbollah's security compound, a sealed-off block of buildings where Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah had an office and residence and where the group's Shura Council decision-making body was located. The compound and adjacent buildings have been reduced to rubble by successive Israeli airstrikes.

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