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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 August 2006, 23:34 GMT 00:34 UK
Hezbollah 'will observe UN truce'
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said the UN draft was "unjust"
Hezbollah's leader has said his group will abide by a ceasefire plan agreed at the UN to end fighting with Israel.

However, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said on TV that Hezbollah would continue fighting as long as Israeli soldiers remained in Lebanon.

Lebanon has now also approved the UN resolution, which calls for a "full cessation of hostilities".

The ceasefire will become effective at 0500GMT on Monday, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan announced.

He said he was "very happy" that the prime ministers of Israel and Lebanon had agreed to halt hostilities from then, but he added that "preferably, the fighting should stop now".

Israel has extended an offensive in south Lebanon, tripling its ground troops there.

Some Israeli troops have reached the key target of the Litani River, the army says.

Eleven Israeli soldiers were killed and more than 70 wounded in the fighting on Saturday.

Israel also confirmed a helicopter had been shot down in southern Lebanon, causing some casualties. It is the first such loss to hostile fire in the conflict.

Israel's Cabinet will discuss and take a formal vote on the UN ceasefire resolution on Sunday.

'War not ended'

On Hezbollah's al-Manar TV channel on Saturday, Sheikh Nasrallah said the UN resolution was "unfair" in holding his group responsible for the fighting.

Map

But he added: "We will not be an obstacle to any decision taken by the Lebanese government."

And referring to Israel's insistence it has the right to continue military operations in Lebanon in self-defence, Sheikh Nasrallah said: "As long as there is Israeli aggression, it is our right to fight them and defend our land."

He added: "The war has not ended. There have been continued strikes and continued casualties. Today nothing has changed and it appears tomorrow nothing will change."

Sheikh Nasrallah said Hezbollah would co-operate with the deployment of UN and Lebanese troops in the south.

The BBC's Nick Childs in Beirut says this appears a very conditional acceptance, aimed at maintaining Lebanese political unity.

UN Security Council meeting
The Security Council emphasises the need for an end of violence, but at the same time emphasises the need to address urgently the causes that have given rise to the current crisis
UN resolution text

After the Lebanese cabinet meeting that approved the UN resolution, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said the approval was "a unanimous decision, with some reservations".

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is also asking his Cabinet to endorse the resolution, describing it as positive and acceptable.

More than 1,000 Lebanese and more than 120 Israelis have been killed in the conflict since Hezbollah militants captured two Israeli soldiers on 12 July in a cross-border raid.

Israel's army chief, Lt Gen Dan Halutz, said on Saturday Israeli troops would remain in Lebanon until the arrival of a UN peacekeeping force - expected to be 15,000-strong.

Gen Halutz did not give a figure for the new number of Israeli troops currently in Lebanon, but Israeli sources put it at about 30,000.

Israeli radio on Saturday quoted the head of the northern command, Maj-Gen Udi Adam, as saying "some of the forces have reached the line of the Litani" - up to 30km (18 miles) from the Israeli border.

In the helicopter incident, Hezbollah said it had shot down the aircraft with a new Waad missile over the southern Lebanese village of Yater. The number of casualties is not known.

In other military developments:

  • Several sources confirmed heavy clashes between Israeli troops and Hezbollah fighters at the village of Ghandouriyeh, 11km inside Lebanon
  • Israeli jets also raided the city of Sidon - north of the Litani - destroying facilities at a power station
  • According to Lebanese security sources, up to 15 people were killed in an Israeli air strike on the village of Rshaf in south Lebanon
  • Israel said it had killed more than 40 Hezbollah fighters in the past 24 hours
  • Hezbollah fired more rockets into northern Israel, but Israeli sources said the number was fewer than in recent days.

The UN special envoy to the Middle East, Alvaro de Soto, said he expected Israel to wind down its operations in the next couple of days. No timetable has been agreed on the truce.

HAVE YOUR SAY
The UN needs to be firm but fair in its handling of the emerging situation
Peter Hewitt, Borehamwood, UK

UN Security Council resolution 1701 says Hezbollah must end attacks on Israel while Israel must end "offensive military operations" in Lebanese territory.

On Saturday, US President George W Bush praised the UN move, adding: "I now urge the international community to turn words into action and make every effort to bring lasting peace to the region."

Mr Bush also added more condemnation of Hezbollah, saying it shared the same "totalitarian ideology" as those arrested in a suspected plot to blow up US-bound jets from Britain.


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See the unanimous vote at the United Nations



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