Hochstein reportedly held 'extraordinary' contacts after Monday's escalation

U.S. mediator Amos Hochstein held “extraordinary” direct and indirect contacts with all parties in the region in the wake of Monday’s major escalation between Israel and Hezbollah, diplomatic sources said.

Hochstein sought to “contain the escalation, which almost torpedoed all the U.S. efforts to prevent a descent into a harsh confrontation that would threaten to ignite the entire Middle East region,” the sources told ad-Diyar newspaper in remarks published Tuesday.

“The Americans again obtained Israeli assurances that there is no decision yet to expand the clashes zone, but they did not commit to any restrictions,” the sources added.

The fighting witnessed a major escalation on Monday, with Israel carrying out airstrikes in the eastern Baalbek region for the first time since the 2006 war, in response to Hezbollah’s downing of an advanced Israeli drone in south Lebanon.

Since October 8, Hezbollah and Israel have exchanged near-daily fire. At least 284 people have been killed on the Lebanese side since fighting erupted, most of them Hezbollah fighters but also including 44 civilians. On the Israeli side, 10 soldiers and six civilians have been killed according to the Israeli army.

The fighting has also displaced tens of thousands of residents on both sides of the border and Israel has repeatedly warned that it might use bigger force against Hezbollah to secure its residents' return.

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