Israeli warplanes have attacked a Palestinian base in eastern Lebanon near the border with Syria amid rising tensions in the Middle East.
The early morning strike comes a day after an alleged Israeli drone crashed in a Hezbollah stronghold in southern Beirut while another exploded and crashed nearby.
It is understood there were three strikes after midnight on Sunday, minutes apart, that struck a base for a Syrian-backed group known as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command, an ally of the Lebanese Hezbollah militant group.
It is understood there were three strikes (one pictured) after midnight on Sunday, minutes apart, that struck a base for a Syrian-backed group known as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
There was no immediate comment from Israel on the strike, which the agency said hit near the village of Qusaya in the eastern Bekaa Valley.
Airstrikes by Israel against Palestinian factions in Lebanon, such as this one, have been rare in the past years.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said on Sunday that his group will confront and shoot down any Israeli drones that enter Lebanese airspace from now on, raising the potential for conflict amid heightened regional tensions.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah (shown on the TV screen) said on Sunday that his group will confront and shoot down any Israeli drones that enter Lebanese airspace from now on, raising the potential for conflict amid heightened regional tensions
Airstrikes by Israel against Palestinian factions in Lebanon, such as this one, have been rare in the past years. Pictured: Israeli soldiers patrol near the border village of Ghajar, on the border with Lebanon
Nasrallah also vowed to retaliate to an Israeli airstrike inside Syria that took place late Saturday, which he said killed two Hezbollah members. Pictured: UN peacekeepers patrol near the village of Khiam, Lebanon on the border with Israel
Nasrallah also vowed to retaliate to an Israeli airstrike inside Syria that took place late Saturday, which he said killed two Hezbollah members.
He said allowing Israel to keep flying drones over Lebanon would lead to a similar situation as in Iraq, where a series of attacks there targeting military bases and weapons depot belonging to Iranian-backed Shiite militias have left the country on edge.
US officials say at least one of the airstrikes on the militia in Iraq was carried out by Israel.
In Saturday’s strikes near the Syrian capital, Damascus, Israel publicly stated it was thwarting an imminent drone strike against Israel by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
Israeli aircraft on Saturday struck Iranian forces near Damascus that had been planning to launch ‘killer drones’ at targets in Israel, an Israeli military spokesman said.
‘The strike targeted Iranian Quds Force operatives and Shiite militias which were preparing to advance attack plans targeting sites in Israel from within Syria over the last number of days,’ the military said in a statement.
The elite Quds Force is the overseas arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).
Israeli military spokesman Jonathan Conricus told reporters the forces on Thursday had been preparing to launch ‘killer drones’ armed with explosives at northern Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the military had thwarted the planned Iranian attack.
‘Iran has no immunity anywhere. Our forces operate in every sector against the Iranian aggression,’ he said on Twitter.
Syrian state media said Syrian air defences intercepted ‘hostile targets’ over Damascus, the capital, Saturday night.
Witnesses in Damascus said they heard and saw explosions in the sky.
‘The aggression is ongoing and air defences are confronting hostile targets and are downing most of them in the southern region,’ state media outlet SANA said, indicating areas south of Damascus.
The Syrian army said in a statement that ‘the majority of the Israeli missiles were destroyed before reaching their targets.’
Witnesses in Damascus said they heard and saw explosions in the sky. On Thursday, Netanyahu hinted of possible Israeli involvement in a series of blasts in the past few weeks that have hit weapon depots and bases belonging to paramilitary groups in Iraq, many of them backed by Iran.
But Conricus said the impact of the Israeli strikes was ‘significant.’
Israel says it has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria against Iranian targets trying to establish a permanent military presence there and against advanced weapon shipments to Tehran-backed Lebanese militia Hezbollah.
Iran and Hezbollah are helping President Bashar al-Assad in the eight-year Syria war. Russia, which is also aiding Assad, has largely turned a blind eye to the Israeli air strikes. Netanyahu spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, the Israeli leader’s office said.
The Lebanese news agency also reported that Israeli drones flew over parts of southern Lebanon on Monday.
Hezbollah and Israel fought a month-long war in 2006.
The volatile border between the two countries, which remain technically in a state of war, has been mostly calm since that conflict.