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Conflict

Israel strikes at Lebanon target after rocket salvo

The Israeli air force has bombed a military target in Lebanon after four rockets were fired across the border, apparently by an al Qaeda-linked group. Israel has said it holds the Lebanese government responsible.

An Israeli Air Force Boeing 707 refuels three F15I fighter jets during an acrobatics display during a graduation ceremony at the Hatzerim Air Force base near the southern city of Beersheba, Israel,Thursday, June 28, 2012. The pilots, who train for three years, will fly all types of military aircraft including combat and attack helicopter. (Foto:Ariel Schalit/AP/dapd)

Luftwaffe Israel

Israel launched the airstrikes on Friday morning, claiming the attack was in retaliation for rockets being fired into its territory from northern neighbor Lebanon.

An Israeli military source claimed that the "terror site" that was bombed was close to Na'meh, between the capital, Beirut, and the southern port of Sidon.

"Israel will not tolerate terrorist aggression originating from Lebanese territory," military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner said in a statement announcing the strike.

According to a statement from the army, Israel holds Lebanon responsible for the rocket barrage. "The pilots reported direct hits to the target," it added.

Islamist group claims responsibility

Four rockets had been fired into Israel from Lebanon on Thursday, two of which hit populated areas and caused damage but no injuries. The al Qaeda-linked group Abdullah Azzam Brigades claimed responsibility for the rocket salvo. Similar attacks were claimed by the group in 2009 and 2011.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had earlier promised to hit back against the perpetrators. "Anyone who harms us, or tries to harm us, should know - we will strike them," he said.

The rocket attacks were condemned by Lebanese Prime Minister Michel Suleiman, who said they were a violation of a UN Security Council resolution that ended a 34-day conflict between Israel and Hezbollah militants in 2006. The two countries remain technically at war, with Israel having launched a number of attacks on Lebanon since a UN peacekeeping mission, UNIFIL, was established there in 1978.

rc/pfd (AFP, Reuters)