French FM will head to Beirut on Monday: Diplomatic source to Al Arabiya English

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French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna will head to Beirut on Monday to talk about the need to contain violence and stop Lebanon from getting involved in the Gaza-Israel escalations, a diplomatic source told Al Arabiya English on Saturday.

France has been passing messages from US to Iran-backed Hezbollah about the need to spare Lebanon and its people from becoming a part of the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

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After the Hamas attacks, Secretary Austin ordered the deployment of additional equipment and resources, including munitions, to arrive in Israel. He also ordered the deployment of a US aircraft carrier strike group to the Eastern Mediterranean and the augmentation of fighter jets.

A senior US defense official said Monday that those military posture increases in the Middle East were intended to serve as a deterrent signal to Iran, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and any other proxy in the region following the Hamas attack.

On Thursday, a senior US defense official again warned: “Let me again reiterate one of the main messages that this rapid increase in [military] posture is intended to send to both state or non-state actors: The United States is unequivocal in its support for the defense of Israel, and it is sending a warning to any entity that would consider taking advantage of this conflict and this war to escalate violence. One word, quite simply: Don’t.”

Washington has voiced fears that Lebanese Hezbollah could attack Israel from the north. There have been cross-border exchanges after rocket and missile attacks from Palestinian factions inside Lebanon resulted in Israeli retaliation against Hezbollah targets. At least three Hezbollah militants have been killed, according to the group.

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