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Israel-Hezbollah Ceasefire Takes Effect

  • VOA News

Israeli forces and Hezbollah militants in Lebanon have stopped more than a month of fighting after a UN-mediated ceasefire took hold on Monday.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan says the ceasefire appears generally to be holding. No major clashes have been reported.

Thousands of displaced Lebanese are jamming roads as they try to return to their villages in the south.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says the ceasefire eliminates Hezbollah's state within a state in Lebanon. He told the Israeli parliament Israel will continue to pursue the guerrilla group everywhere and at all times.

In an address over Hezbollah television, the group's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, said his fighters had won a "strategic, historic victory" over Israel. He added that he thinks it is the wrong time to discuss disarming his group, which is called for in the U.N. ceasefire resolution.

In Washington, a US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the UN resolution, if successfully implemented, will be a strategic setback for Hezbollah's supporters, Iran and Syria.

Israel says its forces will hold most positions seized in recent days and continue its air and sea blockade of Lebanon until an international system is in place to prevent arms shipments to Hezbollah.

Also today, UN officials met with Israeli and Lebanese army officials to discuss the transfer of Lebanese territory now under Israeli control.

The UN special envoy to the Middle East, Alvaro de Soto, says international peacekeepers should arrive in Lebanon within days.

Heavy fighting continued in southern Lebanon up to the final minutes before the ceasefire deadline.

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