Hizbullah rejects US ship deployment off Lebanon

A US deployment of warships off Lebanon sharpened tensions in the crisis-ridden nation as the Shiite militant group Hizbullah said it won't be intimidated, and the US-backed government that the ships may be intended to bolster distanced itself from the move. The planned deployment of three ships, announced Thursday, appeared to be aimed at making an American show of strength at a time of increasing international frustration at the volatile political deadlock in Lebanon between the pro-Western government of Prime Minister Fuad Saniora and the opposition, led by Hizbullah. Lebanese fear the crisis is increasingly taking on a regional scope - a proxy confrontation between the United States and some of its Arab allies on one side and Hizbullah's allies Iran and Syria, staunch opponents of America's Mideast policies, on the other. Although the US military move may serve as a morale-booster for Lebanon's anti-Syrian factions despite being a symbolic force with limited firepower, it also could prove as an embarrassment for them and provides ammunition to the Hezbollah, which accuses the government of being controlled by Washington.