Hezbollah, Israel trade cross-border fire as Blinken holds talks on Mideast

Israel and Lebanon-based Hezbollah traded fire Saturday in one of the heaviest days of cross-border fighting in recent weeks, a day after the militia's leader urged retaliation for the targeted killing, presumably by Israel, of a top Hamas leader in Lebanon's capital.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said that if his group didn't strike back for the killing Tuesday of Saleh Arouri, Hamas' deputy political leader, all of Lebanon would be vulnerable to Israeli attacks.

With the risk of regional escalation, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken kicked off an urgent Middle East diplomatic tour, his fourth since the Israel-Hamas war erupted three months ago.

"It is absolutely necessary to avoid Lebanon being dragged into a regional conflict," the European Union's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said in Beirut during his own Middle East tour.

Hezbollah said it launched 62 rockets toward an Israeli air surveillance base on Mount Meron and scored direct hits in its "initial response" to Arouri's killing. It said rockets also struck two army posts near the border. The Israeli military said about 40 rockets were fired toward Meron and that a base was targeted. The army's chief spokesperson, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said the rockets caused no casualties in Israel.

Hagari said the military struck the Hezbollah squads that fired the rockets and also attacked Hezbollah military sites. Hezbollah said six of its fighters were killed Saturday, raising the toll since the fighting began to 150.

Israeli airstrikes on southern Lebanon hit the outskirts of Kouthariyeh al-Siyad, a village about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the border, Lebanon's state-run National News Agency said, adding that there were casualties. Such strikes...

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