UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Lebanon’s Hizbollah group said it shot down an Israeli aircraft on Monday near the southern town of Ramia, the latest escalation of tension between the Iranian-backed group and Israel.
“The Israeli drones are now in the hands of the resistance,” Hezbollah said in a statement.
The incident came a week after Hezbollah and the Israeli army exchanged cross-border fire in the deadliest exchange between the two sides since the 2006 Lebanon war.
After a clash last week, the group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, vowed to target Israeli drones entering Lebanese airspace.
The Israeli army said in a statement that one of its drones “landed inside southern Lebanon during routine operations.” He did not say why the plane crashed but pointed out that “there are no fears that information could be obtained”.
An Israeli military spokeswoman said it was a “simple drone” without giving details.
Hizbullah stated that it “confronted” the drone with “appropriate weapons” while en route to the town of Ramia in southern Lebanon and was shot down at the outskirts of the town.
A reporter for Hezbollah’s al-Manar television, speaking from the border, said the drone had not been badly damaged and had flown in Lebanese airspace for about five minutes.
– Syria strikes –
In a separate statement, the Israeli army said armed Shi’ite factions operating under the command of the Quds Force, the foreign arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, fired a number of rockets at Israel from Syria on Monday, but landed before they reached Israeli territory.
The army said the rockets were fired from an area near Damascus.
Israel, worried about Iran’s growing regional influence through armed allies in countries such as Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, says it has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria. Israel seeks to prevent Iran from establishing a permanent military presence there and has targeted advanced arms shipments on its way to the Lebanese group.
A new war between Israel and Hezbollah could increase the risk of a wider Middle East conflict, as Iran resists US attempts to force it to renegotiate its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said unidentified aircraft overnight killed pro-Iranian fighters in eastern Syria and attacked their positions and weapons depots in the town of Al Bukamal, near the Iraqi border.
Israel also stepped up the situation last week by accusing Hezbollah of building a factory, with the help of Iran, to produce precision-guided missiles in the Bekaa Valley.
– Attack of drones –
Nasrallah, whose group fought a month-long war with Israel in 2006, blamed Israel for an attack by two drones last week and vowed to target Israeli drones entering Lebanese airspace.
The Lebanese government has repeatedly complained to the United Nations about Israel’s violation of its airspace.
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