Saturday, July 22, 2006
DEBKAfile Exclusive: Syria placed its army on war preparedness, pointed Scuds at Israel from Thursday, July 20, the day Tehran took control of Lebanon War
July 22, 2006, 12:27 PM (GMT+02:00)
Our sources add Syrian fighter pilots are sitting in their cockpits.
These orders went out from Syrian president Bashar Assad July 20 when Iran’s Revolutionary Guards commander Brig.-Gen Yahya Rahim Safavi (picture) assumed command of the Lebanon war from Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah. Tehran’s direct military intervention in the conflict was accompanied by an Iranian weapons airlift which began landing Wednesday, July 19, at the Abu Ad Duhur military airfield north of Homs.
ON THE ISRAEL-LEBANON border Israeli tanks, bulldozers and personnel carriers knocked down a border fence and entered southern Lebanon on Saturday.
The vehicles carrying about 25 soldiers raced past a U.N. outpost and headed into a village which other Israeli soldiers already had occupied earlier in the day. Artillery based inside Israel was firing into the area.
Hundreds of Israeli troops were in the border area, engaging Hezbollah militants by land, sea and air as part of the country’s limited ground campaign.
Friday, July 21, 2006
At least Clinton didn't hit on other world leaders...
Wednesday, July 19, 2006this on. Seems timely given the veto just signed by chimpass.
Blast Kills 53 in Iraqi Holy City
Growing Violence Claimed 3,000 Civilians Last Month, U.N. Says
By Andy Mosher and Saad Sarhan
Washington Post Foreign Service
BAGHDAD, July 18 -- A suicide bomber killed more than 50 day laborers Tuesday in the Shiite shrine city of Kufa, adding to intensifying violence that the United Nations says claimed the lives of more than 3,000 Iraqi civilians in June.
According to police and witnesses, the bomber drove a Kia minibus loaded with explosives to a spot where men gather each morning to wait for offers of a day's work. The driver lured more than enough men to fill his vehicle, then triggered a massive explosion, according to police Brig. Gen. Abbas Mouadal.
The blast killed 53 people and wounded more than 130, police and health officials said. The bombing, which occurred a day after gunmen killed more than 40 people in a Shiite market in nearby Mahmudiyah, was one of the deadliest attacks in an increasingly deadly year.
In a report issued Tuesday, the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq said that 14,338 Iraqi civilians died violent deaths during the first six months of 2006. Last month alone, 3,149 civilians died that way -- an average of more than 100 a day -- according to the report, which drew from figures supplied by the Iraqi Health Ministry and the Baghdad morgue.
The report said the overwhelming majority of casualties were reported in Baghdad. Since a Shiite shrine in the northern town of Samarra was bombed in late February, the Iraqi capital has been ravaged by sectarian violence. Shiite militiamen make almost nightly raids on Sunni Arab neighborhoods and Sunni insurgents frequently bomb Shiite mosques and other gathering places.
"Sectarian violence is what seems to be emerging," said Gianni Magazzeni, head of the U.N. mission's human rights office, which issued the report.
The report stated that the casualty figures "continued an upward trend" and noted that the Health Ministry has said the number of civilian deaths was probably underreported. "The challenge for the government is to address the issues of law and order," Magazzeni said.
The latest report contained the most detailed statistics that the Iraqi government has yet provided, according to the U.N. official. He said this appeared to indicate that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government was taking more concrete steps toward reducing violence than previous governments.
During the transitional government of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jafari, officials at the Baghdad morgue and the Health and Interior ministries had said initially that 1,300 civilians died in the first week of violence after the Samarra shrine bombing, then publicly lowered the figure. An international official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed at the time that health authorities had reckoned the toll to be above 1,000 but said they lowered the official figure under political pressure.
Kufa, the site of Tuesday's suicide bombing, is a stronghold of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Sadr draws the bulk of his support from the youngest and poorest among Iraq's Shiite population, and police and witnesses said many of the bombing victims were his followers.
In the aftermath of the blast, which littered the street in front of the Muslim bin Aqueel shrine with bodies, tattered clothing and tools, angry survivors accused local police of leaving the scene minutes before the bomber drove up.
"Every morning, there are police and barbed wire, and no one is allowed in," said Hussein Abdul Zahran, 27, a construction worker who lay wounded on the floor of a hospital in nearby Najaf. But Tuesday morning, "the American forces came and took the police away, saying they have to count them."
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The House on Tuesday rejected a constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage, ending for another year a congressional debate that supporters of the ban hope will still reverberate in this fall's election.
The 236-187 vote for the proposal to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman was 47 short of the two-thirds majority needed to advance a constitutional amendment. It followed six weeks after the Senate also decisively defeated the amendment, a top priority of social conservatives.
But supporters said the vote will make a difference when people got to the polls in November.
"The overwhelming majority of the American people support traditional marriage," said Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colorado, sponsor of the amendment. "And the people have a right to know whether their elected representatives agree with them."
Opponents dismissed the proposal as both discriminatory and legislatively irrelevant because of the Senate vote. The measure is "all for the purpose of pandering to a narrow political base." said Rep. Tammy Baldwin, an openly gay Democrat from Wisconsin. "This hateful and unnecessary amendment is unworthy of our great Constitution."
'American values agenda'
The marriage amendment is part of the "American values agenda" the House is taking up this week that includes a pledge protection bill and a vote on President Bush's expected veto of a bill promoting embryonic stem cell research. Bush has asked, and social conservatives demanded, that the same sex marriage ban be considered in the run-up to the election.
The White House, in a statement Tuesday, urged passage of the measure. "When activist judges insist on redefining the fundamental institution of marriage for their states or potentially for the entire country, the only alternative left to make the people's voice heard is an amendment of the Constitution."
The same-sex marriage debate mirrors that of the 2004 election year, when both the House and Senate fell well short of the two-thirds majority needed to send a constitutional amendment to the states. But the issue, in the form of state referendums, helped bring conservative voters to the polls.
One result has been that, while Congress stayed on the sidelines, state legislatures moved aggressively to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
Forty-five states have either state constitutional amendments banning same sex marriage or state statutes outlawing same-sex weddings. Even in Massachusetts, the only state that allows same sex marriage, the state's high court recently ruled that a proposed constitutional amendment to ban future same sex marriages can be placed on the ballot.
"Our momentum in the states is extremely strong and Washington is playing catch-up," said Matt Daniels, president of the Alliance for Marriage.
Daniels, who was involved in drafting the amendment's language, said it was essential that Congress eventually set a national standard. Members of Congress are "the only hope for seeing marriage protected in this country and they should be on record."
'I don't tell you who to love.'
But Rep. Barney Frank, an openly gay Democrat from Massachusetts, said the amendment would prevent states such as his own, where thousands of same-sex couples have married over the past 21/2 years, from making decisions on what constitutes marriage.
"I do not understand what motivates you," Frank said Monday, addressing Republicans on the Rules Committee. "I don't tell you who to love."
The proposed amendment says that "marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither the Constitution, nor the constitution of any state, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman."
One conservative group, the Traditional Values Coalition, said it was a "good thing for traditional marriage" that the measure was unlikely to pass because it wasn't clear enough in ruling out civil unions between gays.
"We have just won several important court decisions in the past few weeks," said the coalition's executive director, Andrea Lafferty, but the amendment's proponents "are still playing 'Let's make a deal' with the liberals and the homosexual lobby."
The Senate took up the measure last month but fell 11 short of the 60 votes needed to advance the legislation to a final vote. The last House vote on the issue, just a month before the 2004 election, was 227-186 in favor of the amendment, 39 short of the two-thirds majority needed to advance a constitutional amendment.
The U.S. Constitution has been amended only 27 times, including the 10 amendments of the Bill of Rights. In addition to two-thirds congressional approval, a proposed amendment must be ratified by three-fourths of the states.
Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Ex-Lobbyist in Abramoff Case Loses Georgia Race
By SHAILA DEWAN
ATLANTA, Wednesday, July 19 — Ralph Reed, the former director of the Christian Coalition and a former Republican lobbyist involved in the Jack Abramoff scandal, suffered an embarrassing defeat in his effort to win the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor on Tuesday.
Mr. Reed conceded defeat before 10 p.m., with his opponent leading by more than 10 percentage points.
Early Wednesday, with more than 92 percent of precincts reporting, Mr. Reed’s opponent, State Senator Casey Cagle, led with 56 percent of the vote.
Mr. Reed’s candidacy was viewed as a test of the effects of the Washington lobbying scandal on core Republican voters.
Mr. Reed, the former leader of the Georgia Republican Party, was a close associate of Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist who pleaded guilty to charges of fraud, tax evasion and bribery and who arranged for Mr. Reed to be paid by Indian tribes that ran casinos to coordinate anti-gambling campaigns against competing casinos.
“It’s clear that politicians that put money before their morals should be very worried by these results,” said David Donnelly, the director of Campaign Money Watch, which spent $100,000 to campaign against Mr. Reed.
But some Democrats actually rooted for Mr. Reed, believing that he would be prove to be a liability for the incumbent Republic governor, Sonny Perdue, and that he would have been easier to defeat.
“It may mean that Democrats lose the lieutenant governor’s race,” said William Boone, a political science professor at Clark-Atlanta University. “It certainly takes away the issue of corruption that the Democrats nationally have been using.”
Mr. Perdue will be challenged by Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor, who defeated Cathy Cox, the secretary of state, in the Democratic primary.
Most Republican office-holders in Georgia endorsed Senator Cagle, who spent most of the race lagging behind Mr. Reed in the polls. Some even asked Mr. Reed to drop out of the race.
But Mr. Reed persevered, promising the most effective get-out-the-vote operation in Georgia history. In Cobb County, a key Republican area where he had boasted of winning a straw poll by more than 12 points, Mr. Reed lost with 11,600 votes to Mr. Cagle’s 14,800.
Throughout his campaign, Mr. Reed maintained that he did not know that the money he received through Mr. Abramoff came from gambling proceeds and said he was proud of helping to shut down casinos.
“Tonight my candidacy for lieutenant governor comes to an end, but the ideas for which I stood, the values for which you have fought, and the governing philosophy that we believe in will go on, and it will go on to victory,” he said in his concession speech.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Earlier this year, the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), which is charged with investigating attorney misconduct, announced that it could not pursue an investigation into the role of Justice lawyers in crafting the NSA warrantless wiretapping program because it was denied security clearance.
Previously, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales would not explain why the security clearances had been denied, saying he did not want to "get into internal discussions." But in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning, Gonzales said President Bush personally blocked Justice Department lawyers from pursuing an investigation of the warrantless eavesdropping program.
SPECTER: Now when you had the first line of review, Mr. Attorney General, by OPR, why wasn't OPR given clearance as so many other lawyers in the Department of Justice were given clearance?
GONZALES: Mr. Chairman, you and I had lunch several weeks ago, and we had a discussion about this. And during this lunch, I did inform you that the terrorist surveillance program is a highly-classified program. It's a very important program for the national security of this country -
SPECTER: Highly-classified, very important, many other lawyers in the Justice Department had clearance. Why not OPR?
GONZALES: And the President of the United States ultimately makes decisions about who ultimately is given access -
SPECTER: Did the President make the decision not to clear OPR?
GONZALES: As with all decisions that are non-operational in terms of who has access to the program, the President of the United States makes the decision because this is such an important program -
SPECTER: I want to move on to another subject. The President makes the decision and that's that.
A Theocratic Two-Fer: AG asked if abortion doctors could face death and Medical Staff Charged with Murder for Katrina EuthanasiaGo go gadget theocracy! Story 1:
Doctors who perform banned abortions in Texas, such as those late in pregnancy or on minors whose parents have not given consent, could face capital murder charges and the death penalty because of recent changes in state law, a prosecutors group contends.
A Republican lawmaker from Dumas has asked Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to clarify the issue with a legal opinion.
"There is no evidence ... that the Legislature intended to bring such conduct within the scope of the criminal homicide statutes," state Rep. David Swinford, chairman of the House State Affairs Committee, wrote in his request for the opinion.
At issue is a 2003 prenatal protection act that defines an unborn child as "an individual," giving it additional rights. Then last year, other changes to the law banned doctors from performing some abortions, such as those in a woman's third trimester, except in certain circumstances, or on a minor if the physician hadn't obtained the consent of a parent or a court order.
Texas law already made it legal to prosecute someone for capital murder in the killing of a child younger than 6.
The Texas District and County Attorneys Association interprets the changes as meaning that doctors who perform those abortions could face the death penalty.
"Since those are now prohibited medical practices, they are not lawful practices," said Shannon Edmonds, director of governmental relations for the group. "We don't write the law.
"The whole purpose of our interpretation is to explain what the law is."
Edmonds said he knows of no case in Texas in which the death penalty was sought for a doctor performing abortions.
Local lawmakers have mixed opinions about the situation.
"I don't think any legislator thought this would be the intent," said state Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth. "But we do have unintended consequences more often than we'd like to admit.
"I opposed the legislation in the first place, because I don't think it's any of the government's business what a woman decides to do," he said. "If we did this by mistake, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if it stands."
State Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, said Republicans for years have tried to limit the rights of women.
"I wonder if this was just a step further in that direction, to limit their rights," Veasey said. "It's possible it may have been an unintended consequence. I'm not sure, though."
No matter what, state Rep. Charlie Geren said this isn't a controversy he is going to worry about.
"If they're performing illegal abortions, it's not a concern of mine what happens," said Geren, R-Fort Worth. "I don't think anyone should perform illegal abortions. If they do, they should face punishment.
"If Swinford has asked for an opinion about this, I don't think any of us should waste our time speculating about it."
Abbott has 180 days to issue an opinion, but his decision will not bind a court or prosecutor. Even so, Swinford said the decision will indicate what the intent of the law is.
Joe Pojman, executive director of Texas Alliance for Life, said his group advocated for the new Texas laws and asked Swinford to request the attorney general's opinion.
"When we were lobbying for all those laws, we were very clear that the penalty for physicians violating the law ... is either a Class A misdemeanor or a third-degree felony," said Pojman, of the statewide anti-abortion advocacy group. "It was not capital murder."
No matter what, the law needs to be clarified to avoid a chilling effect, said Peggy Romberg, director of the Women's Health and Family Planning Association of Texas, a statewide family planning advocacy group that supports abortion rights.
"Just the possibility that physicians could be charged with capital murder for making a [paperwork] mistake, ... that could result in physicians not providing care," Romberg said. "We already have situations where fewer doctors are willing to provide abortions because of harassment.
"It's important to clarify this," she said. "Let's make sure the punishment fits the crime."
Three charged with second-degree murder in Katrina hospital deaths
NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (CNN) -- A doctor and two nurses were charged with second-degree murder Tuesday after Louisiana's attorney general launched an extensive investigation to uncover whether hospital staff euthanized some patients after Hurricane Katrina hit, a source close to the case told CNN.
Late Monday, Dr. Anna Pou, Lori L. Budo and Cheri Landry were arrested in connection with the alleged deliberate deaths of some patients at New Orleans Memorial Medical Center after Hurricane Katrina hit, a source close to the investigation told CNN.
The three were booked and released around midnight, jail officials said.
Further details of the arrests and investigation into the alleged deliberate deaths at New Orleans Memorial Medical Center are expected to be disclosed by Louisiana's attorney general Charles Foti, Jr. at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
Foti has been investigating for months whether hospital and medical staff euthanized some patients. He is expected to outline what he thinks happened to some of the 45 Memorial Hospital patients who were found dead after the August hurricane evacuations.
"We obviously think it's a very credible ... we spent a lot of time, energy and manpower working on this case ... so we think it's a good case," Foti told CNN in February.
In October, CNN reported exclusively that after deteriorating conditions -- with food running low and no electricity -- some medical staff openly discussed whether patients should be euthanized.
Dr. Bryant King, a contract physician for Memorial who was working before and after the hurricane, said another doctor came to him and recounted a conversation the doctor claimed she had earlier with a hospital administrator.
According to King, the doctor said that the administrator suggested patients be put "out of their misery."
King said when he objected this physician acknowledged his concerns but said that "this other (third) doctor said she'd be willing to do it." King told CNN that he later that day saw one doctor holding a handful of syringes. He left, King said, because he believed the doctors would follow through with their suggestion of euthanasia. However, King never saw any wrongdoing occur.
Shortly after he began his investigation last year, Foti issued 73 subpoenas to hospital staff and physicians after he said the hospital owner, Tenet, was not cooperating in the investigation.
Since then tissue samples have been sent to a private East Coast lab to determine if fatal doses of medicine -- including the painkiller morphine -- were in the bodies of any of the dead, New Orleans Parish Coroner Frank Minyard told CNN in December.
U.S. evacuation efforts slowly under way in Lebanon
BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- Fewer than 70 of the 25,000 Americans thought to be in war-torn Lebanon had been evacuated from the country by Monday, the U.S. State Department said.
U.S. lawmakers have expressed concern that the evacuations were not proceeding quickly enough as fighting between Israel and the militant group Hezbollah turned parts of Lebanon, including the capital, Beirut, into a war zone.
On Sunday, Marine helicopters carried 21 Americans from Lebanon to the nearby Mediterranean island of Cyprus and another 43 made the trip Monday, the State Department said. (Watch as the first Americans are evacuated -- 1:39)
But Nicholas Burns, U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs, defended the government's response time in the wake of the violence.
"We've acted very fast," Burns told CNN's "American Morning" on Tuesday.
"We've had an air bridge from Cyprus to Beirut over the last couple of days. We've taken out elderly people and sick people and children."
The U.S. government has contracted with cruise ships to evacuate Americans, many of them with dual citizenship, Burns said. The U.S. has a ship docked in Beirut, and another one will arrive Tuesday evening to take 900 to 1,000 people, he added.
Military sources said the Greek cruise ship Orient Queen had left Cyprus for Beirut on Tuesday, but it was unclear if it had received clearance to go through an Israeli naval blockade.
The Israeli navy instituted a blockade of Lebanese ports last week, one of the measures it took after Hezbollah guerrillas abducted two Israeli soldiers. Israel also bombed Beirut's international airport, putting it out of commission and complicating evacuation planning.
"We also have U.S. military assets in the region to provide protection for those commercial ships that carry Americans," Burns said.
Burns called evacuation preparations "very well thought out, methodical and highly prepared" and said 15,000 Americans had registered with the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.
Burns attributed the small number of evacuees so far to the fact that many Americans have dual citizenship and are not under mandatory evacuation orders. (Watch a trapped U.S. student cope in Lebanon -- 1:38)
"People go out when they want to go out," he said.
Americans who don't have money to pay their way out of Lebanon will be allowed to sign promissory notes to receive loans from the government, U.S. officials said.
Burns said, "We also have U.S. military assets in the region to provide protection for those commercial ships that carry Americans."
Iwo Jima group to help
The Iwo Jima expeditionary group is heading to the Mediterranean from the Red Sea to help with the evacuations of Americans, Pentagon officials said Tuesday.
The USS Gonzalez, a Navy destroyer, is sailing to provide security for the evacuation mission, but Pentagon officials declined to say when it will arrive in the eastern Mediterranean.
In addition to ships, airlines are being chartered, and Marine helicopters have ferried evacuees as well, Pentagon officials have said.
Other Western nations also have moved to get their citizens to safety by land, sea and air.
On Monday, an Italian vessel and a France-dispatched ferry arrived in Cyprus, carrying evacuees.
In addition to about 800 French citizens, the latter ship carried about 400 nationals from Germany, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Spain, Finland, Greece, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and Switzerland.
An estimated 40,000 Canadians are thought to be in Lebanon, and Canadian Foreign Minister Peter MacKay said Ottawa is doing "everything possible" to evacuate them. Eight Canadians were reported killed and six more critically wounded Sunday in Lebanon, MacKay said.
Democratic senators urge quick action
Concern for Americans stranded in Lebanon prompted Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan and Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts to send a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld asking for quick action.
In the letter, the three Democratic senators said reports indicated the evacuations were not happening quickly enough and urged the two officials to make available all necessary resources "to address this unfolding crisis."
"Given the intensity of the conflict and the need to ensure the safety of American citizens, we would ask that the decision to evacuate Americans be made at once, and that sufficient resources to expedite the evacuation be made available," the senators wrote. "Ensuring the safety of these Americans must be our top priority."
A similar concern was partly behind Sen. John Warner's move to block temporarily a resolution backing Israel's campaign against Hezbollah and Hamas, the Islamic militant organization that leads the Palestinian government.
Warner, R-Virginia, warned colleagues that the conflict's possible impact on the war in Iraq and negotiations over Iran's nuclear program requires more debate.
"This is a very critical time for the United States in the Middle East, and the Israeli actions will certainly have an impact beyond just Lebanon and Gaza," he said.
Warner noted that the resolution made no mention of Americans in Lebanon.
"How best do we address this conflict to help protect those 25,000 Americans? That, to me, is an essential part of this debate," he said.
Monday, July 17, 2006
Mideast crisis drives Bush to colorful language
Mon Jul 17, 6:33 AM ET
ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - A microphone picked up an unaware President Bush saying on Monday Syria should press Hezbollah to "stop doing this shit" and that his secretary of state may go to the Middle East soon.
Bush was talking privately to British Prime Minister
Tony Blair during a lunch at the Group of Eight summit in St Petersburg about an upsurge of violence in the Middle East, not realizing a microphone was recording what he said.
"I think Condi (Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice) is going to go pretty soon," Bush said.
Blair replied: "Right, that's all that matters, it will take some time to get that together."
The two leaders also referred to an offer by Blair to help. Blair said Rice has "got to succeed" if she goes out to the region.
Bush replied: "What they need to do it to get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit." Shortly afterwards Blair noticed the microphone and hastily switched it off, but not before the recording had reached news media.
Much of the G8 summit has been devoted to discussing the Middle East crisis centering on Lebanese Hezbollah militant attacks on
Israel and Israeli bombing of Lebanon. Washington and its allies say Hezbollah is backed by Syria.
Israeli raids reach north Lebanon
Lebanese people salvage belongings from bomb crater
Lebanese people say they are being punished collectively
Israel has extended its air campaign to northernmost Lebanon, killing at least 14 people, including nine soldiers, in the port of Abdeh near Tripoli.
The raids come after a Hezbollah rocket attack killed eight Israelis in Haifa.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned that the Haifa attack would have "far-reaching consequences".
Beirut's port and northern suburbs were also hit overnight. About 130 Lebanese have been killed since Israeli operations began on Wednesday.
Early on Monday, Israeli air strikes targeted Tripoli, Lebanon's second-largest city located in the north, and Baalbek in the east.
The target in Abdeh was about 6km (four miles) south of the border with Syria.
The Israeli military said it had been targeting radar stations in Abdeh because they were used by Hezbollah to hit an Israeli ship on Friday, the Associated Press news agency reported.
The port of Beirut also came under attack, as well as fuel tanks in Dawra in the northern suburbs. At least two people are believed to have died in the raids on the capital.
The Israeli air strikes began after Hezbollah seized two Israeli soldiers during a raid into Israel on Wednesday.
Twelve Israeli civilians have been killed by Hezbollah rockets since fighting began - including the eight killed in Haifa.
In other developments:
* The Israeli army said Hezbollah rockets fired from Lebanon have struck deeper into Israel than ever before, hitting the town of Afula, 50km (33 miles) south of the border, and the outskirts of Nazareth
* Israeli air strikes late on Sunday set fuel tanks ablaze at Beirut's international airport
* Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said the battle against Israel was "just at the beginning", in his first televised appearance since the offensive began
* Iran's foreign ministry denied Israeli allegations that it supplied missiles to Hezbollah
Top European Union and United Nations officials have arrived in Beirut for talks on the crisis.
These extremist elements... cannot be allowed to plunge the Middle East into chaos
G8 nations statement
G8 blames 'extremists'
After meeting Lebanon's Prime Minister Fuad Saniora, the European Union Foreign Policy chief Javier Solana appealed for an end to the violence and the release of two Israeli soldiers being held captive by Hezbollah.
EU foreign ministers will discuss the crisis at a meeting in Brussels on Monday.
Meanwhile, leaders of the G8 nations have blamed extremist forces for the crisis, while calling on Israel to end military operations.
At least 16 died in Israeli air strikes on Sunday the city of Tyre, while attacks on a border village killed seven Canadians of Lebanese origin who were on a family holiday.
The strikes came hours after the Haifa rocket attack, which killed eight members of a train repair crew.
Correspondents say the large death-count in a strike on Israel's third-largest city has rattled the whole country.
Israel's death toll from the fighting stands at 24 overall.
Israel has carried out a heavy bombing campaign across Lebanon, hitting Hezbollah sites, but also a wide range of civilian targets.
US security teams have landed at the US Embassy in Beirut to start planning the evacuation of Americans.
Foreign nationals have been leaving Lebanon to escape the violence.
As the violence has escalated the number of locals attempting to flee has grown, but with the Israelis targeting the border areas and nearby roads, this has become increasingly difficult.