Lebanon PM Mikati says working to avoid entering ‘war’ with Israel

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Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister said on Monday he was working to ensure his country does not enter the Hamas-Israel war, even as Hezbollah and Israel have been exchanging cross-border fire.

Najib Mikati said he feared an escalation, with the border skirmishes stoking concerns that Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah could launch its own war with Israel.

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“I am doing my duty to prevent Lebanon from entering the war” raging further south, Mikati told AFP in an interview.

Cash-strapped Lebanon is facing the possibility of war essentially leaderless, as political divisions have left the country without a president for almost a year, while Mikati has headed a caretaker cabinet for about a year and a half.

“Lebanon is in the eye of the storm,” Mikati said.

“I cannot rule out an escalation because there is a race to reach a ceasefire before escalation spreads in the entire region.”

Hezbollah and allied Palestinian factions in Lebanon have exchanged fire with Israel almost daily since Hamas’s October 7 assault on Israel.

Iran-backed or affiliated groups have also launched attacks on Israel from Syria, and targeted US forces stationed in Syria and Iraq.

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