900 Lebanese killed

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1244

All Israeli troops must leave Lebanon before we can accept a ceasefire, Hezbollah said yesterday as its fighters battled an Israeli force of 10,000 troops along the border in southern Lebanon.

Israel admitted to two Israeli soldiers being killed in ferocious fighting at Ayt Al-Alta’b and Marun Al-Ra’s just a mile inside the south Lebanon border, while Hezbollah said it had caused many more enemy casualties and destroyed more Israeli tanks.

The resistance movement fired more rockets in retaliation for Israeli air strikes which killed many more Lebanese civilians.

Two rockets hit Acre, just south of the port of Haifa, killing two Israeli settlers. Three other Israelis were killed elsewhere.

Lebanese prime minister Fuad Siniora said more than 900 people, nearly all civilians, have been killed and 3,000 injured in Israeli attacks since the assault on Lebanon began three weeks ago.

Siniora added that one million people, a quarter of the population, had been displaced by the fighting, which continued unabated yesterday.

Yesterday’s rocket attacks came after Israeli warplanes bombed south Beirut, and an Israeli missile hit a house in the Lebanese border village of Taibeh killing a family of three.

Israeli F-16 jets also bombed roads and bridges near Lebanon’s northern border with Syria overnight, Lebanese radio said.

With Israeli forces bogged down, prime minister Ehud Olmert was greeted with disbelief when he told Israeli media that the country was ‘very close’ to achieving its goals in Lebanon.

Iranian president Mahmud Ahmadinezhad told the OIC summit: ‘The real cure for the conflict is the elimination of the Zionist regime, but there should be an immediate ceasefire first.’

He added: ‘The circumstances should be prepared for the return of the  refugees and displaced people, and prisoners should be exchanged.’

Ahmadinezhad also said: ‘The losses inflicted on Lebanon should be paid by the US and Britain which are supporters of the Zionist regime.’

• Prime minister Blair yesterday admitted there is a split in the cabinet and his Middle East policy has been a failure.

Under fire at his monthly Downing Street press conference, Blair defended Israel and the sending of US bombs and missiles via the UK to Israel.