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US gives full support for Israeli operation against Hezbollah tunnels

U.S. National security adviser John Bolton adjusts his glasses while speaking to the media after his talks with Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev in Baku, Azerbaijan, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018. Bolton said that Washington hasn't yet made up its mind on f
AP Photo/Aida Sultanova
Amid the IDF operation, Bolton said the US 'strongly supports Israel’s efforts to defend its sovereignty'

The White House gave Israel full backing Tuesday for an army operation to destroy Hezbollah terror-tunnels under the border with Lebanon.

National Security Advisor John Bolton said Tuesday the United States “strongly supports Israel’s efforts to defend its sovereignty.”

"More broadly, we call on Iran and all of its agents to stop their regional aggression and provocation, which pose an unacceptable threat to Israeli and regional security," Bolton said on Twitter.

On Tuesday, hours after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and affirmed US commitment to confronting threats from Iran, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced the launch of "Operation Northern Shield," to prevent and destroy underground tunnels dug by Hezbollah from Lebanon into Israeli territory.

Netanyahu said Tuesday that he briefed Pompeo during their meeting on the launch of Operation Northern Shield, telling him that the Hezbollah cross-border tunnels represent "a flagrant violation of Israeli sovereignty and UN Security Council Resolution 1701."

A statement from the US State Department said that Pompeo “emphasized the United States' commitment to Israel's security and absolute right to self-defense” and “reiterated America’s resolve in confronting the totality of the Iranian regime’s threats through maximum pressure.”Thomas COEX (AFP/File)

The meeting came amid heightened tensions over Iranian actions in the region, with Pompeo accusing Tehran of illegally testing nuclear-capable warheads and Israel accusing it of continuing to arm Lebanon's Hezbollah with heavy weapons.

In public remarks at the beginning of their meeting, Netanyahu thanked Pompeo for his “strong” stance on Iran and said he looked forward to discussing joint efforts to “curb Iran's aggression in the region, in Syria, in Iraq, in Lebanon and elsewhere.”

The United Nations’ Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which has been on the border between Israel and Lebanon since 1978, and is mandated to monitor the cessation of hostilities since the last war in 2006, said they were not aware of any violence, and that the situation "remained calm".

In a statement on Tuesday, they said they were in contact with Israel and Lebanon to maintain stability and to ensure, through the tripartite coordinating mechanism, that messages are passing between the two sides.

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