Israeli news reports Thursday said 40 guerrillas of the pro-Iranian Hezbollah were killed and about 30 wounded in a raid in south Lebanon by Israel and its Christian militia allies.

Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir said Thursday that the daylong sweep on Wednesday was part of an Israeli policy "aimed at preventing the establishment and entrenchment of terrorist bases" used to launch attacks on Israel.The raid on the villages of Lowaizeh, Soujud and Mleekh was carried out by the South Lebanon Army militia, backed by Israeli artillery and helicopter gunships.

The three villages were described as strongholds of Hezbollah, the Iranian-supported Shiite Moslem militia whose name means Party of God.

An Israeli army spokesman said five Lebanese militiamen were wounded, one of them seriously. Israeli forces reported no casualties.

Gen. Yossi Peled, head of Northern Command, said the operation showed Israel could "decide where we want military encounters to be and not wait for the other side."

The army said four buildings in Lowaizeh, the hardest-hit of the three villages, and an unspecified number of mortars were destroyed but that it had no information about Hezbollah casualties.