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Lebanon sets election dates

BEIRUT (Reuter) - The government set dates yesterday for Lebanon's first general elections in 20 years, ignoring strong Christian opposition to holding them before a Syrian troop withdrawal. Elections in northern and eastern Lebanon will be held on 23 August, in Beirut and Mount Lebanon on 30 August and in southern Lebanon on 6 September.

Most Christian areas observed a general strike on Thursday to protest against plans to hold elections before a Syrian withdrawal.

Israeli warplanes blew up bases of the Iranian-backed Hizbollah in south Lebanon yesterday. Five Fijian UN soldiers were wounded in south Lebanon by a bomb that ripped through their vehicle.