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Twenty years after withdrawal, Israel, Hezbollah brace for war

Israeli troops are practising for what could be an invasion of Lebanon, striking Hezbollah targets in neighbouring Syria.

Sidon| Both sides are preparing for a possible war that neither appears to desire after Hezbollah guerrillas pushed Israel’s last troops from southern Lebanon twenty years ago.

Israeli troops are practising for what could be an invasion of Lebanon, striking Hezbollah targets in neighbouring Syria. Hezbollah is building up its own forces and intimidating to invade Israel. The resentful enemies routinely exchange warnings and threats.

“We are preparing seriously for the next war. We’re not taking any shortcuts because we understand we have to be extremely strong to defeat the enemy,” said Colonel Israel Friedler, an Israeli commander who has been managing a weeks-long exercise simulating a war with Hezbollah at a base in northern Israel.

Israeli airstrikes on Iranian targets in Syria have increased, the first four months of this year reports show. These include targets across Syria, from Aleppo in the north to the Iraqi border in the south, a distance of around 310 miles.

Hezbollah arose as a ragtag guerrilla group in the 1980s, backed by Iran to fight Israeli troops invading southern Lebanon. A protracted guerrilla war, portrayed by roadside bombs and sniper attacks, ultimately forced Israel to withdraw in May 2000.

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The Syrian government and U.S. officials have acknowledged them even when Israel does not take credit for most of the strikes. A high-profile visit by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Israel on May 13 underpins how these strikes have become a “new normal,” considered neither controversial nor provocative.

(Input from Agencies)

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