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Lebanese assess their losses

On Monday, Arab ministers called for a US-French resolution to be revised more in Lebanon's favor.

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Emotional and stunned as he viewed the smoldering ruin that once housed his office, Razwan Bahar made a request for help that served as metaphor Monday for the belated diplomacy swirling around the Israel-Hizbullah war.

"Did you call the fire department?" Bahar asked a young man in a Shiite militia T-shirt, shortly after an Israeli air strike pancaked the building at dawn. "Yes, we did," came the straight reply. "But they are not coming because there is nothing left to save of this building. It has all collapsed."

While Mr. Bahar and others from this Beirut Hizbullah stronghold tallied the cost of the destruction Monday, Arab foreign ministers met downtown. The Lebanese government called for the US and France to revise a draft UN Security Council resolution to require an immediate cease-fire and full withdrawal of 10,000 Israeli troops fighting Hizbullah in southern Lebanon. Arab League foreign ministers agreed to send a delegation to New York.

The US and France had planned to put the resolution to a vote Monday, but that goal slid to Tuesday at the earliest. Since the war erupted July 12, the Security Council has only issued two statements reacting to Israeli attacks on a UN observer post and on civilians in Qana. Lebanese government officials said Monday the Cabinet unanimously approved sending 15,000 Lebanese soldiers to south Lebanon as soon as Israeli troops withdraw.

In fighting Monday, three Israeli soldiers were killed in south Lebanon, the Israeli army said, near the Hizbullah stronghold of Bint Jbail. Hizbullah fired another 160 rockets on northern Israel on Monday, injuring five people, police and rescue services told the Associated Press. Israeli warplanes intensified airstrikes and launched a new commando raid in south Lebanon on Monday, killing at least 28 people in one of the heaviest tolls in days. Lebanon's prime minister, choking back tears, pleaded for a cease-fire but demanded that any U.N.-drafted plan require a full Israeli withdrawal.

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