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(photo credit: AP [file])
Hizbullah's leader, for the first time since fighting began 22 days ago, offered Thursday to stop rocket attacks on northern Israel in return for an end to airstrikes throughout Lebanon.
Hassan Nasrallah, however, vowed to fire rockets into Tel Aviv if Israel were to strike at Beirut proper. IAF warplanes have hit Hizbullah strongholds in southern Beirut suburbs repeatedly, most recently before dawn on Thursday.
"If you bomb our capital Beirut, we will bomb the capital of your usurping entity... We will bomb Tel Aviv," he said.
While threatening Tel Aviv for the first time, Nasrallah also offered his first gesture toward diminishing the conflict, which has taken more than 500 Lebanese lives and killed more than 50 Israelis.
"Anytime you decide to stop your campaign against our cities, villages, civilians and infrastructure, we will not fire rockets on any Israeli settlement or city," he said in a taped television speech.
Nasrallah said his forces were succeeding in inflicting "maximum casualties" on the IDF in southern Lebanon, and said his guerrillas would not back down from the brutal fighting around towns and villages across the rugged region.
"We naturally prefer that it is a military against military fight, on the ground, on the battlefield - we are ready for it," he said.
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