International Response

Russia condemns Israeli attacks

Updated: 2006-07-13 16:41
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MOSCOW (AP) - Russia on Thursday condemned the Israeli attacks on Lebanon and in Gaza, and called for the release of Israeli hostages.

In a strongly worded statement, Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin also called for Israel to respect Lebanon's sovereignty.

"The continued destruction of civilian infrastructure in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories and the disproportionate use of force by Israel, which causes suffering to the civilian population, can be neither understood nor justified," he said.

"Equally unacceptable are any manifestations of terrorism and the taking of hostages, who must be released immediately and unconditionally," he said.

In the latest incident of Israel's two-week offensive to pressure Palestinian militants to release a captured Israeli soldier, an Israeli warplane bombed the Palestinian Foreign Ministry, collapsing part of the structure and causing widespread damage in the area.

In Lebanon, Israel widened its ongoing air and sea assault, targeting Beirut's international airport and blasting southern region for a second day. The offensive began a day earlier after Hezbollah guerrillas captured two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid.

Russia is a member of the Quartet group of international mediators, which also includes the United States, the United Nations and the European Union.

Moscow has sought recently to bolster its influence in the Middle East, hosting leadership from Hamas, the radical Palestinian group that won elections earlier this year.