Thursday, June 3, 1999 Published at 07:08 GMT 08:08 UK
World: Middle East
Lebanese militia quit key town
Reports from southern Lebanon say the pro-Israeli militia, the South Lebanon Army (SLA), has completed its long-awaited withdrawal from the strategic Lebanese town of Jezzine.
They also came under renewed attack from Hezbollah guerrillas, prompting retaliatory raids by Israeli planes.
On Tuesday, at least two militiamen were killed and another injured in Hezbollah attacks as the group began its retreat from the surrounding area.
SLA Commander Antoine Lahd said the situation there had become too dangerous to handle.
The area around the town has been under the control of the SLA since 1985 when Israel first established the security zone to protect its northern border communities from guerrilla attacks.
The group is funded and armed by Israel to aid its patrols of the border zone.
On Wednesday Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah warned Israel not to attack the Jezzine enclave after the SLA completes its withdrawal.
Israeli officials say the SLA pullback will test the willingness and ability of the Lebanese Government to prevent Hezbollah from using the area as a base for attacks on Israel.
But Israel has stressed the withdrawal is not related to plans by the new Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, to restart talks with Syria over the situation in Lebanon and Israel's occupation of the Golan Heights.
Mr Barak has pledged to withdraw all Israeli troops from south Lebanon within a year, in tandem with resuming peace negotiations with Syria, the powerbroker in Lebanon.