MARJAYOUN, Lebanon (Reuters) -
Israel ousted Hizbollah guerillas from a stronghold just inside Lebanon on Saturday after several days of fierce fighting, the army said, as it bombarded targets across the south of the country.
Ground forces commander Major-General Benny Gantz said Israeli soldiers took control of Maroun al-Ras, a hilltop village overlooking both sides of the border, where six Israeli commandos have been killed this week.
Israel said it planned no full-scale invasion of Lebanon for now, but warned villagers near the border to leave.
In the town of Marjayoun, about eight km (5 miles) from the border, cars packed with people waving white flags fled north fearing Israel will step up an 11-day-old war which has killed 354 people, mostly civilians.
Gantz said Israeli soldiers inflicted dozens of casualties on Hizbollah. The Shi'ite Muslim group said on Saturday one guerrilla had been killed but did not say where.
An Israeli army spokesman had said troops backed by around a dozen tanks and armored vehicles had been fighting in Maroun al-Ras, one km inside Lebanese territory, and found Hizbollah bunkers and weapons stores.
He said Israel might widen its military action, but was still looking at "limited operations." "We're not talking about massive forces going inside at this point," he said.
Resisting growing calls for a ceasefire, the United States stressed the need to tackle what it sees as the root cause of the conflict -- Hizbollah's armed presence on Israel's border and the role of its allies, Syria and Iran.
"Resolving the crisis demands confronting the terrorist group that launched the attacks and the nations that support it," U.S President George W. Bush said, one day before Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice was to head to Israel.
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Stupid rag heads have been dying well deserved deaths in southern Lebanon this past week and with the capture of this stronghold Israel has put itself in a very good position to take the fight right into Hezbollah’s backyard and cause as much damage to it’s infrastructure as possible. If Hezbollah continues to fire rockets into northern Israel, Israel will have no other alternative than to reoccupy territory to ensure the safety of its own people. On another note Hamas has offered a cease-fire, this has got to be a joke right? Who the hell do they think they are to call a cease-fire; they are the ones who initiated this military action with constant rocket attacks and the abduction of an Israeli soldier. They now say that a cease-fire has not been offered and that attacks are coming to repay Israel for its transgression. These two terrorist organizations have decided that they can hit Israel with rockets, kill its soldiers and Israel should be able to do nothing, and when Israel finally acts to protect its own, the coward UN condemns Israel again. The weak European nations want Israel to stop, and of course the media is only showing pictures of civilians who have died, why do they refuse to show what these savages are doing to totally innocent people. Israel must do everything in its power to crush them without mercy, there is a time and place for compassion and mercy, but war is not that time. Hezbollah and Hamas will show no mercy and are brutal killers who would not hesitate to chop each and every one of your heads clean off and post it on the internet for everyone to see. Those who do not understand the enemy we face will be sadly mistaken when you realize that those savages will not show you mercy because you didn’t support Bush or where against our war effort or Israel’s for that matter. They just plain want you dead or to be converted, it’s that simple.