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Israel, Hezbollah Guerrillas Call Off Fighting After Fierce Round of Rocket AttacksAired May 5, 2000 - 1:09 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon are calling a stop to their fighting. A fresh round of rocket attacks and retaliatory strikes from each side along the Israeli border is being called the worst fighting in nearly a year.
CNN's Brent Sadler reports the renewed violence could complicate efforts to withdraw Israeli forces from the region.
BRENT SADLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An Israeli warplane under heavy ground fire striking at Lebanon, one in a series of raids which left a large part of the country's electricity network in ruins. A major power plant near the northern port city of Tripoli some 70 miles from Beirut was destroyed, inflicting what the national power company describes as a civilian catastrophe.
Overnight airstrikes targeted two installations, putting out most of the lights in coastal towns and mountain communities. In more direct military action against Hezbollah itself, a suspected guerrilla arms depot near the eastern city of Balbec was also set ablaze.
Hezbollah replied, firing more Katyusha rockets into northern Israel, both Israel and Hezbollah disregarding a 4-year-old agreement that's supposed to spare each other's civilian from a raging conflict over Israel's occupation of the southern tip of Lebanon, prompting a response from the United States.
DAVID SATTERFIELD, U.S. AMBASSADOR: This is a particularly sensitive, a particularly volatile situation. It is extremely important that all sides do everything possible to avoid actions which could lead to an escalation.
SADLER: And a possible warning to Syria, which backs Hezbollah and has influence over Lebanon, Israel carved up the Beirut-to- Damascus highway, attacking the vital root close to a Syrian intelligence post.
Syria is regarded by Israel as a patron of Hezbollah's actions, here burying one of their recently killed fighters. But it was Lebanese civilians dead and injured at the hands of Israel's military Thursday, claims Hezbollah, which first provoked their deadly Katyusha rocket strikes into Israeli border settlements. Israel appears to have limited its level of retaliation for now at least, claiming that unless Hezbollah renews attacks on northern Israel, there's no need to step up their cross-border raids into Lebanon.
SADLER: Israel says it will have pulled out all its troops from occupied South Lebanon in just 10 weeks from now, a critical change in the military equation in this area, and one which the international community hopes will bring eventual peace on the heals of continuing war.
Back to you, Natalie.
ALLEN: And, Brent, what about the Hezbollah? What are they planning to do now?
SADLER: Well, Hezbollah says it will show restraint as far as attacks on Israel if there are no civilian casualties inflicted by Israel's military here. Hezbollah guerrillas will continue their attacks against Israeli occupation forces in the South, going for military-only targets, they say, in these next two month.
Back to you, Natalie.
ALLEN: Thank you, Brent.
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