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US calls for 'diplomatic path' on Lebanon after Israel warning

US calls for 'diplomatic path' on Lebanon after Israel warning

Mourners attend the funeral of Hezbollah fighter Hassan Salame in his hometown village of Khirbet Silm on Feb. 27, 2024. (Credit: Hassan Fneich/AFP)

The United States called Tuesday for a focus on diplomacy to resolve tensions over Lebanon, after Israel warned it would pursue Hezbollah even if it achieves a cease-fire in Gaza.

"We do not want to see either side escalate the conflict in the north," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters.

"The government of Israel has said publicly, and they have assured us privately, that they want to achieve a diplomatic path," he said.

"That's what we're going to continue to pursue and, ultimately, that would make military action unnecessary."

Miller added that Israel faced a "real security threat" with thousands of people who have fled their homes near Lebanon, calling it a "legitimate issue that needs to be addressed."

Israel and Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite movement that is backed by Iran, have been exchanging fire since Oct. 8, the day after Palestinian militant group Hamas carried out a major attack inside Israel.

In retaliation to Hamas's surprise attack, Israel launched a relentless military operation in Gaza that has killed nearly 30,000 people since its start.

Raising fears of all-out war, Israel this week struck Hezbollah positions deep into Lebanese territory – the latest of strikes that have hit increasingly deeper inside Lebanese territory – which included one strike in Baalbeck on warehouses belonging to the Hezbollah supermarket chain al-Nour. According to the Israeli military, the strike on Baalbeck was in response to Hezbollah's downing of one of its Hermes 450 drones that was flying over southern Lebanon.

On Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said there would be no let-up in Israeli action against Hezbollah even if ongoing diplomacy succeeds in reaching a Gaza cease-fire and the release of hostages seized on Oct. 7.

Hezbollah has said that in the event of a cease-fire in Gaza, it would immediately cease all attacks on Israel. During the previous week-long truce at the end of November 2023, Hezbollah, for the most part, adhered to the truce and sparingly launched attacks on northern Israel.

France, with US support, has been pushing a plan in which Hezbollah and allied fighters would withdraw to around 12 kilometers from the border and Israel would halt attacks.


The United States called Tuesday for a focus on diplomacy to resolve tensions over Lebanon, after Israel warned it would pursue Hezbollah even if it achieves a cease-fire in Gaza.

"We do not want to see either side escalate the conflict in the north," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters.

"The government of...