Southern Lebanon cut off by fighting

This coastal town was in lockdown Tuesday after Israel imposed a curfew preventing anyone from driving vehicles south of the Litani River, about 25 miles north of Israel's border.

Leaflets dropped by Israeli aircraft over Tyre warned that Israel would escalate its operations to hit "terrorist forces using human shields to fire rockets from homes into Israel." The flyer said that "any vehicle of any type" seen on roads south of the Litani "will be targeted because they will be suspected of carrying rockets."

Adding to Tyre's isolation was Israel's bombing of a Litani causeway, the sole lifeline to the rest of the country.

The UN is attempting to secure a green light from the Israelis to build a new temporary bridge over the Litani to facilitate the transport of vital humanitarian supplies to the beleaguered residents of the south. The Israelis denied permission Monday, warning that any new bridge would be blown up, according to a senior diplomat in Beirut. UN and aid agencies continued to press Israel Tuesday not to obstruct the construction of the bridge, and UN officials remained hopeful that the Israeli authorities would relent.

Also Tuesday, on-the-ground fighting continued throughout southern Lebanon as Israeli forces tried to gain control of towns and villages. At least 15 Hizbullah fighters and one Israeli solder were killed.

The Lebanese government pledged to send 15,000 troops to be part of a peacekeeping mission as debate continued over a possible UN resolution calling for a cease-fire.

In Tyre, the streets were emptier than usual following the imposition of the curfew. In one cafe, a group of Lebanese dressed in shorts and vests sat around a table playing cards. "There's nothing to do, so we are just hanging out," said one young man.

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