MARJAYOUN, Lebanon Aug 11 (AP): Israeli warplanes and artillery pounded Hezbollah positions Friday in an attempt to gain command of strategic high ground and disrupt guerrilla rocket attacks. In far north Lebanon, Israeli jets blasted a key bridge to Syria, killing at least 12 people.
The conflict for the first time touched the entire length of Lebanon - from skirmishes on the Israeli border in the south to the northern border about 100 miles away - and sent the message that no place was safe from the widening Israeli attacks.
But Hezbollah delivered a similar statement to northern Israel with another barrage of more than 150 rockets, it said. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
UN diplomats held out hope that an end could be in sight. Negotiators reported progress on a cease-fire plan that has been stuck over a timetable for an Israeli withdrawal. America's ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, said a vote was possible Friday.
Israel has delayed a major new ground offensive to give diplomacy some room. But officials warned that they would unleash the fresh infantry forces if the talks fail.
The most severe fighting continued around Marjayoun, an important hub just north of Israel's Galilee panhandle that juts into Lebanon. An Associated Press reporter briefly entered the embattled city and witnessed intense Israeli bombardment of dug-in Hezbollah fighters.
The city, which is mostly Christian, is crucial because it gives Israeli gunners a view of the Litani River Valley and other areas used as launching grounds for Hezbollah rockets. Israeli tanks rolled into Marjayoun on Thursday after coming under sustained Hezbollah ambushes along the way.
Reuters adds: The United States and France were close to agreement on Friday on a U.N. resolution aimed at halting the bloodshed in Lebanon and Israel but objections from combatants could force another delay.
Throughout Thursday, negotiators believed they had achieved a breakthrough. But the deal came apart when Beirut rejected deployment of additional U.N. troops under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which allows for the use of force rather than just self-defence.