Friday, August 4, 2006

War Crimes Continue; Bridge Bombing Paralyses Lebanon Aid Pipeline by Michael Winfrey

BEIRUT - Israel's bombing of key highway bridges in northern Lebanon and strikes at a Hizbollah stronghold in south Beirut paralysed United Nations aid convoys on Friday, but other aid continued to arrive by air and sea.

Air strikes against four bridges on the main coastal highway linking Beirut to Syria stalled an eight-truck convoy carrying 150 tonnes of relief and cut what the United Nations called its "umbilical cord" for aid supplies.

The bridge at Maameltein, just north of Beirut, was split along its centre by a huge crater which partially engulfed the crushed shell of a minivan. Further north, another bridge lay stretched out in the valley it once spanned.

"The whole road is gone," said Astrid van Genderen Stort, senior information officer for the UNHCR refugee agency.

"It's really a major setback because we used this highway to move staff and supplies into the country."

The U.N.'s World Food Programme (WFP) called off planned convoys southwards to the port city of Tyre and Rashidiyeh after air strikes on a southern Beirut suburb prevented drivers from reaching the convoys' departure point.

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