Top U.S. officials have warned Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) not to attack the Lebanese military after the IDF struck Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) positions some 34 times since Oct. 7.
According to a list of incidents compiled by U.S. officials and reviewed by CNN, IDF fire from small arms, artillery, drones, and helicopters struck LAF positions 34 times, causing eight injuries and one death. The administration has warned Israel that the attacks on the U.S.-supported LAF are unacceptable.
A spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Council told CNN, “The United States has been clear we do not want to see this conflict spread to Lebanon and we continue to urge the Israelis do all they can to be targeted and avoid civilians, civilian infrastructure, civilian farmland, the UN, and the Lebanese Armed Forces.”
“The United States is proud of its partnership with the LAF, an essential institution, not only to the stability and security of Lebanon but of the entire region,” the spokesperson added.
One senior official reportedly said the U.S. believes some of the strikes that hit LAF positions appear to have been accidental. The IDF seemed to be targeting the Lebanese Shiite terrorist group Hezbollah. The group operates along the border between Israel and Lebanon. It has reportedly been striking Israeli military positions in the area.
⚡️#Lebanon, Hezbollah: Scenes from the Islamic Resistance targeting a position of #Israeli enemy soldiers outside the Ramim barracks (the occupied Lebanese village of Honin) with a strike drone. pic.twitter.com/AiEZdVXEDB
— Middle East Observer (@ME_Observer_) December 16, 2023
The intended targets of some of the other assaults were less clear, according to the official. Junior IDF soldiers may not be exercising enough restraint.
U.S. officials are alarmed by the attacks because they see the LAF as essential to a diplomatic solution to bring the conflict with Hamas to an end. The White House fears regional instability should the conflict spread to the north.
🚨🇱🇧🇮🇱 Hezbollah released this video with the caption “Israel, count your soldiers.”
— Jackson Hinkle 🇺🇸 (@jacksonhinklle) December 9, 2023
An IDF spokesperson said on Friday that any harm caused “to other forces is unintentional.” IDF spokesperson Nir Dinar explained, “In response to Hezbollah’s aggression, the IDF strikes the terrorist organization’s military infrastructure and works to eliminate any threat to the State of Israel.”
“Any harm to civilians and other forces is unintentional. Such incidents are reviewed in order to improve operational precautions and to ensure accountability when necessary,” Dinar added.