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U.N. blames Hezbollah for Blue Line fights

UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 23 (UPI) -- The U.N. Security Council has expressed deep concern about hostilities along the Blue Line between Israel and Hezbollah forces in Lebanon earlier in the week.

In unusual specificity Wednesday, it said the Monday clashes "were initiated by Hezbollah from the Lebanese side, and which quickly spread along the entire Blue Line," and said it regretted the casualties on both sides.

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In a statement read to reporters by Russia's Ambassador Andrey Denisov, who is Council president for November, the 15 members appealed to all parties to respect the Blue Line in its entirety, exercise the utmost restraint and refrain from any action that could further escalate the situation.

They repeated their call on the government of Lebanon to extend its authority and to exert its monopoly over the use of force in all of its territory, in accordance with Council resolutions.

A U.N. spokesman said Tuesday the hostilities resulted in the reported deaths of several Hezbollah fighters and an unconfirmed number of wounded on both sides, and that the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon brokered a ceasefire to prevent a further escalation of tensions.

The line was drawn to verify Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon.

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