The US is very concerned by reports that Israeli strikes killed a Lebanese Armed Forces soldier and injured others, an official said on Tuesday.
“The Lebanese Armed Forces is an essential institution, not only to the stability and security of Lebanon, but of the entire region,” the US official told Al Arabiya English.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said the US has made clear that it does not want to see the conflict in Gaza expand into Lebanon. “Restoring calm along the Blue Line is of the utmost importance to the United States and it should be a top priority for Israel and Lebanon,” the official said.
Earlier in the day, the Lebanese army said one of its bases in southern Lebanon was bombarded, “leaving one soldier martyred and three others injured.” This was the first such incident since fighting broke out between Iran-backed Hezbollah and Israel in the aftermath of the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel.
Hezbollah said they responded to the Israeli attack and claimed to have killed and injured members of the Israeli army.
Sources familiar with the matter said that the Israelis told the US it was an accident.
The Israeli army issued a rare apology to “express regret” for killing a Lebanese soldier and injuring three others, saying the incident was under review. A post on X from the Israeli army claimed that they were targeting a threat within a known launch area and observation point used by Hezbollah.
The Biden administration has continued to exert significant diplomatic efforts to help restore calm along the Lebanese-Israeli border. This continues to be a top agenda item for US officials, as was evident during last week’s all between the top US military general and the Lebanese Army commander.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. and Gen. Joseph Aoun discussed the importance of the conflict in Gaza not expanding into Lebanon.
“Gen. Brown reaffirmed the US Government’s strong support for the Lebanese Armed Forces,” according to a readout of their call.
Asked about the Israeli strike, Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said the Defense Department had no information on the report.
“Clearly, the Lebanese Armed Forces are an important partner in the region… Again, as the Chairman [Gen. Brown] highlighted, we do not want to see an escalation of conflict along the northern border of Israel,” Ryder said in response to a question from Al Arabiya English.
Israeli shelling has killed dozens of Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon as well as several civilians and journalists.
US officials have stressed to their Israeli counterparts, including in the Israeli army, the need to limit targeting Lebanese civilians, UN personnel, civilian infrastructure, civilian farmlands and the Lebanese Armed Forces.
Meanwhile, the US has also made clear to Lebanon and its officials that it cannot be a launchpad for attacks against Israel. US officials have repeatedly stressed that they do not want to see the conflict expand into Lebanon, saying it would be in no one’s interest.
Source: Al Arabiya