Thousands of Israeli troops and tanks are massing on the Lebanese border amid increasing signs that Israel is preparing a ground assault against Hizbollah guerrillas. It is reported three or four army divisions could be in place by the end of the weekend as Israel steps up its offensive.
Thousands of Lebanese civilians have now fled north after Israeli airplanes dropped leaflets warning border towns residents to immediately evacuate the area. The threat of a ground invasion has drawn a swift response from the government in Lebanon which says its 60,000 strong army is ready to counter any incursion on the ground.
Meanwhile, US officials say Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is to reveal Washington’s plans for a diplomatic solution to the fighting before travelling to the Middle East on Sunday.