‘We reject war,’ Lebanon tells Iranian foreign minister

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BEIRUT: Lebanon wants to avoid a major war and is looking for sustainable solutions that will restore calm and stability in the south, Foreign Minister Abdullah Bou Habib said on Monday.

His comments at a joint press conference with acting Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani in Beirut came at a time when Hezbollah announced that it had launched a drone squadron towards the headquarters of the Israeli military formation Galilee.

An Israeli military drone fired four missiles at a car on the road between the villages of Kharayeb, Zrariyeh and Kauthariyet Al-Rez on Monday, killing one person.

Iran’s acting foreign minister arrived in Beirut on Monday for a visit during which he plans to meet with Lebanese officials as well as representatives of Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Kani held talks with his counterpart in the Lebanese Foreign Ministry.

At the joint press conference, Kani said Iran has “always supported stability, security and progress in Lebanon and has spared no efforts to promote the progress and well-being of the Lebanese people.”

Kani stressed that “the close relations between Iran and Lebanon are an important indicator of stability in the region and that resistance is the foundation of stability in the region.”

The Iranian official said the focus of the discussion was on the “events in the Gaza Strip, especially in Rafah, and we agreed on the need for the countries of the region, especially the Islamic countries, to launch a joint movement to confront Israeli aggression and protect the Palestinian people.”

“We also agreed on the initiative to convene an emergency meeting of the foreign ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. This is a joint proposal that allows us to take a decisive joint step in this regard.”

The Lebanese minister said Kani reiterated Iran’s commitment to preserving Lebanon’s stability.

Bou Habib reiterated Lebanon’s anti-war stance and his proposed solution for “restoring calm and stability” through the implementation of UN Resolution 1701, which was passed in 2006 to end the Lebanon war.

Kani’s visit to Lebanon is the first since the death of Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian in a helicopter crash last month.

The talks came as hostilities between Hezbollah and the Israeli army entered a tense new phase, with Israeli attacks reaching the outskirts of Saida and Iqlim Al-Tuffah – about 15 km from the southern border – on Monday.

The Israeli moves indicated “serious connotations and fear that the nearly eight-month-long operations could escalate into open war,” a political observer said.

Israeli warplanes raided Jabal Al-Rihan, Jabal Abou Rashed and the outskirts of Meidoun in Jezzine in five phases.

In Naqoura, a drone crashed into a motorcycle, killing one person and injuring another.

Other warplanes carried out mock attacks over the southern region and broke the sound barrier over Al-Zahrani, shattering the glass windows of several houses and shops in Kharayeb, Zrariyeh and Erzay, as well as the window of a special school in Sarafand.

Israeli artillery shelling and attacks targeted the outskirts of Mhaib, Khiam, Aita Al-Shaab, Hanin in Bint Jbeil and Kasaret Al-Arayesh, Aramta Heights, in Iqlim Al-Tuffah.

Ali Abbas Hamieh, a researcher and author on strategic and military affairs, told Arab News that Israel has taken its ongoing war into a new phase.

He noted that Hezbollah has not yet announced that it will enter a new phase of confrontation, but believes that “the ongoing military operations show that the Israeli side is no longer superior at the military level.”

Hamieh added that Israel could no longer hide as its soldiers were being killed in their fighting positions, while Hezbollah members were being attacked on their way home and not in their fighting positions.

In view of the ongoing and escalating Israeli hostilities in southern Lebanon, Hamieh sees “a change in Israeli military strategy.”

As for Hezbollah, “they are taking proactive measures.

“Hezbollah is currently attacking weapons factories in northern Israel in retaliation for any Israeli escalation in Lebanon.”

Hamieh added: “From now on there will be no surprises. We are in a state of military deterrence.”

He added: “I believe Israel will avoid attacks on sensitive locations in Lebanon because Hezbollah knows of even more critical Israeli targets to attack.

“The losses are significant on both sides and the costs are high, everyone is aware of that.”

Hezbollah announced on Monday that it had launched “drone attacks on the new Eastern Front command headquarters in the Galilee Division (Nahal Gershon, east of Dishon) and the locations of its officers and soldiers.”

It was said that the drones had hit their targets “precisely, causing fire outbreaks and killing or injuring enemy soldiers”.

Hezbollah also said it “attacked and directly hit a military vehicle at the Israeli site of Har Addir with guided missiles, resulting in its destruction and killing or wounding the crew.”

In addition, Hezbollah attacked spy equipment at the Al-Malikiyah site with artillery shells and fired rockets at a group of soldiers at the Khallet Wardah site.

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