TYRE, Lebanon (Reuters) - Hizbollah guerrillas were reported to have killed five Israeli soldiers in ferocious fighting in south Lebanon on Friday, as Israeli forces tried to expand areas of control under cover of heavy bombardment.
The Israeli army said it had killed 10 Hizbollah guerrillas.
Lebanese security sources said the guerrillas detonated roadside bombs and fired anti-tank rockets and assault rifles at Israeli forces occupying seven small enclaves in south Lebanon.
The guerrillas also battled Israeli forces trying to launch new incursions near the village of Markaba and a strategic hill near the coastal town of Naquora.
Al Arabiya television said five Israeli soldiers were killed near Markaba. An Israeli army spokesman said confirmed "a few casualties" but would not say whether they had been wounded or killed.
The spokesman said Israeli forces had killed at least 10 Hizbollah fighters in southern Lebanon. There was no immediate comment from Hizbollah on its casualties.
There was no immediate comment from the Israeli army.
Israeli aircraft launched more than 150 strikes on targets across the south while artillery pounded areas close to the border with hundreds of shells, the security sources said.
"The thuds of explosions are continuous, warplanes are not leaving the skies. It is one of the worst days (of fighting)," one source said. "There is an air strike every few minutes."
Hizbollah said in a statement its guerrillas destroyed a tank and a bulldozer and battled infantry units near Markaba, just inside Lebanon, from midnight, inflicting several Israeli casualties.
In another statement, the Shi'ite Muslim group said its guerrillas destroyed a tank and an armoured troop carrier in house-to-house fighting in the village of Aita al-Shaab and confrontations near Taibeh.
The Israeli army said it had identified hitting at least five Hizbollah fighters in the battles. Four Israeli soldiers were killed in similar fighting on Thursday.
Israel said it has carved out a zone containing 20 villages 6-7 km from the border and the defence minister ordered the army to prepare for a possible push to the Litani River some 20 km into Lebanon.
Hizbollah, which triggered the war by capturing two Israeli soldiers on July 12, had killed at least 68 Israelis, including 41 soldiers, before the latest report.
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