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Last Updated: Friday, 7 May, 2004, 09:37 GMT 10:37 UK
Clashes on Israel-Lebanon border
Israeli soldiers
Israeli soldiers prepare for action in the Shebaa Farms area
Israeli aircraft have bombed suspected Hezbollah outposts in south Lebanon, Lebanese security sources say.

The raid in the Shebaa Farms area seems to have been a response to Hezbollah rocket attacks on Israeli army bunkers.

Hezbollah says it has killed several Israeli army infiltrators in the area, where Israel, Lebanon and Syria meet.

This is the third day of fighting in an area claimed as Lebanese by Hezbollah but described by the UN as Israeli-occupied Syrian land.

Cross-border skirmishes have been taking place since Wednesday, punctuated by Israeli air raids on Lebanese territory.

Israel says the Shebaa Farms are part of the Golan Heights, which it captured from Syria in the 1967 war and later annexed.

Hezbollah says it intends to recover the area for Lebanon.

The hostilities come amid reports that a breakthrough is likely in hostage-swap negotiations between Israel and Hezbollah, in which Germany is a mediator.

Air raids

The latest fighting appears to have started when Hezbollah rockets struck Israeli military positions.

Israel responded with air-raids over suspected Hezbollah outposts near the Lebanese border village of Kfarshuba, Lebanese police said.

Hezbollah meanwhile says it killed several Israeli soldiers who had crossed the border into Lebanon.

Israel has confirmed at least one of its soldiers was killed. There was no word on casualties suffered by Hezbollah.

Save for the disputed Shebaa Farms area, the Israel-Lebanon border region has been largely peaceful since Israel withdrew its troops in 2000, after a long and bloody occupation.

The BBC's David Chazan
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