US calls for de-escalation as Hezbollah-Israel conflict heats up

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The Pentagon on Wednesday acknowledged the increase of cross-border exchanges between Lebanese Hezbollah and Israeli forces, something Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin discussed with his Israeli counterpart in a call a day earlier.

“We are seeing an increase in activity in the north, and we don’t want things to escalate into a broader regional conflict,” Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh told reporters.

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On Tuesday, an Israeli airstrike killed the most senior Hezbollah member to date since the latest round of fighting started after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack.

In response, Hezbollah launched one of its biggest attacks on Israel later Wednesday with a reported 150 rockets launched from southern Lebanon.

The tempo and type of attacks carried out by Hezbollah have ramped up in recent weeks. The group shot down another Hermes 900 drone as well as fired surface-to-air missiles at Israeli fighter jets for the first time since Oct. 7.

Meanwhile, the top US military general met with Lebanon’s army chief at the Pentagon on Wednesday to discuss the tensions along the Israel-Lebanon border and the shared goal of avoiding regional escalation.

“The US and Lebanon share a strong commitment to pursuing durable and sustainable security and stability in the Middle East region,” the Pentagon said in a readout of the meeting between Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. CQ Brown and Gen. Joseph Aoun.

Aoun is expected to meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill and other American officials, including Brett McGurk, the White House coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa.

Hezbollah has said it would stop attacks on Israel when a ceasefire in Gaza is reached. Singh, the Pentagon spokesperson, said a ceasefire in Gaza would “certainly lead to a further de-escalation of tensions [along the Lebanese-Israeli border], which is a good thing.”

The number and type of attacks on both sides of the border have again raised the prospect of an expanded conflict between the two sides.

Read more:

Hezbollah launches most rockets yet in war after Israel kills a top commander

Israel, Hezbollah conflict will remain ‘below boiling point’: Gen. McKenzie

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