IDF attacks in Lebanon
IDF attacks in LebanonIDF spokesperson

US administration and intelligence officials are concerned that Israel may launch a ground invasion into Lebanon in the coming months, CNN reported.

According to the report, Israel may be planning to launch such an operation in the late spring or early summer, if diplomatic efforts to push Hezbollah farther into Lebanon fail.

One senior Biden administration official told CNN, "We are operating in the assumption that an Israeli military operation is in the coming months." The official added that such an operation would "not necessarily" be imminent, but could take place "later this spring." Such an operation, he stressed, "is a distinct possibility."

The Biden administration is leading discussions with both Israeli and Lebanese officials, in an attempt to create a wide buffer zone in southern Lebanon. If the efforts bear fruit, such an agreement would likely postpone an Israeli incursion.

The senior official told CNN, "I think what Israel is doing is they are raising this threat in the hope that there will be a negotiated agreement. Some Israeli officials suggest that it is more of an effort at creating a threat that they can utilize. Others speak of it more as a military necessity that’s going to happen."

Another senior Biden administration official warned that there is a growing group willing to "just take a shot" at an incursion, but that such a move could lead to a "major, major escalation that we don’t even know the proportions of."

Since the start of the war, the Hezbollah terror group has been firing on a near-daily basis towards northern Israel, where over half of the residents of the border area have been evacuated from their homes. As the ongoing assaults on northern Israel continue into their fifth month, the IDF has stepped up its retaliatory strikes in Lebanon; recent strikes have come within 27 miles of Beirut, the deepest into Lebanese territory since the 1982 Lebanon war.

CNN noted that Israeli strikes in Lebanon have hit the US-backed Lebanese army frequently enough that the US has ordered Israel to scale back its attacks.

The first administration official also stressed to CNN that a buffer zone will not provide a permanent solution, though it will provide "at least some assurance" against an immediate attack by Hezbollah.