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US, UK, Germany issue travel advisories for Lebanon over border tensions

October 21 ------ Washington, London and Berlin on Thursday (Oct 19) advised their citizens to leave Lebanon as border tensions between Israel and Hezbollah intensify over Israel's war with Hamas. "We recommend that US citizens in Lebanon make appropriate arrangements to leave the country; commercial options currently remain available," a statement from the US embassy in Beirut said, with a similar warning issued by the British. "If you are currently in Lebanon, we encourage you to leave now while commercial options remain available," the British embassy said, urging its nationals to "exercise caution".

Germany's foreign office also asked citizens to "leave Lebanon" in a statement warning that border clashes "can escalate further at any time" and advising its nationals to "use existing commercial travel options to leave the country safely".

Hezbollah and allied Palestinian factions have been trading daily cross-border fire with Israel after Hamas launched a massive Oct 7 assault on southern Israel, killing more than 1,400 people, mostly civilians. Relentless Israeli strikes on Gaza have since killed at least 3,700 people, mostly civilians, the Hamas-run health ministry says.

On Thursday, there were further cross-border exchanges of fire, with Hamas’ armed wing saying it launched a salvo of "30 rockets" from south Lebanon towards northern Israel. Hezbollah also said it had targeted several Israeli positions, in some cases using "guided missiles", and the Israeli army said it had retaliated to incoming strikes from Lebanon. On Tuesday, the US State Department raised its travel advisory for Lebanon from level three to four - the highest level available, and authorized non-essential embassy personnel and their families to leave. Many Arab and Western countries have already encouraged their nationals to avoid travel to Lebanon or leave, with Saudi Arabia on Wednesday urging its citizens to leave Lebanon "immediately" and Kuwait also warning against travelling there. France, Canada, Australia and Spain have also warned against travel to Lebanon. At least 21 people have been killed by cross-border fire in Lebanon, according to an AFP tally, mostly combatants but also three civilians including a Reuters journalist. At least three people have been killed on the Israeli side. Since Tuesday, demonstrators have taken to the streets of Beirut and its suburbs, including near the American and French embassies, to protest against a deadly strike on a Gaza hospital.



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