Israeli commandos in gunfight near Tyre

Israeli naval commandos battled with Hezbollah militants in the southern port city of Tyre, Lebanon, early Saturday, while the militant group fired rockets at Haifa.

Israeli commandos backed by helicopters stormed an apartment building and attacked suspected Hezbollah guerrillas near Lebanon's southern port city of Tyre early Saturday.

Military aircraftbombedroads leading to the site, sealing off the area as the commandos fought gunmen inside the building for about three hours before they were pushed back, Israeli officials said.

The Israeli army said eight of its soldiers were wounded, two of them seriously. None of the commandos was killed, the army said.

Six people were killed, including two Hezbollah fighters and one soldier from the Lebanese army who was at a nearby checkpoint and was shot at, ambulance workers said.

Israel said the apartment was targeted in its campaign to root out those responsible for firing rockets at Israel. Fighting broke out on July 12 when Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers.

The overnight raid was planned to destroy suspected Hezbollah launchers for long-range rockets, including one used on Friday to fire at least three missiles at the Israeli city of Hadera, 75 kilometres south of the border.

Thestrike on Hadera caused no casualties, but was thefarthest south that Hezbollah rocket attacks have reached.

Sidon next on Israel's target list

The army said its next target will be Sidon, which is directly north of Tyre. On Saturday, the Israeli Defence Forces, in flyers scattered around the city, called on residents to leave the area immediately.

Hezbollah, meanwhile, fired more rockets into Israel on Saturday. Medics said five people were wounded north of Haifa, Israel's third largest city.

Elsewhere, one soldier was killed and one wounded just inside Lebanon early Saturday when Hezbollah mortar rounds hit their vehicle, the Israeli army said. The soldiers had been hunting for rocket launchers across the border from the Israeli village of Metula.

The Israeli army saidHezbollah has fired more than 3,000rockets into northern Israel in nearly four weeks of fighting. It said170 of those were launched on Saturday, killing three civilians.

In all, Israel said33 civilians have been killed by rockets since fighting began July 12.

At least 540 Lebanese have been killed, including 468 civilians, 26 Lebanese soldiers and at least 46 Hezbollah guerrillas, according to Lebanese officials.