Waterloo Region Record

Israeli drones flying over Lebanon will be downed, Hezbollah leader vows


BEIRUT — The leader of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah said 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.

Hassan Nasrallah also vowed to retaliate for an Israeli airstrike inside Syria that took place hours earlier that he said killed two Hezbollah members.

Nasrallah’s speech came after one alleged Israeli drone crashed in a Hezbollah stronghold in south Beirut, landing on the roof of a building that houses its media office, while another exploded and crashed in a plot behind the building, causing material damage, authoritie­s said.

AHezbollah spokespers­on said earlier Sunday the group did not fire on any of the drones. He said the second drone was likely armed, judging by the damage.

Nasrallah said one of the drones had been flying low among buildings, calling it a military “suicide mission” and “a clear aggression.”

Allowing Israel to keep flying drones over Lebanon would lead to a similar situation as in Iraq, he said, where a series of attacks there targeting military bases and weapons depots belonging to Iranian-backed militias have left the country on edge. U.S. officials say at least one of them was carried out by Israel.

In Saturday’s strikes near the Syrian capital, Israel publicly stated it was thwarting an imminent drone strike against Israel by Iran’s Revolution­ary Guards’ Al Quds Force.

But Nasrallah said the strikes actually hit a Hezbollah rest house, marking a rare acknowledg­ement of member deaths in Syria by Israeli strikes.

“I tell Israeli soldiers on the border (with Lebanon) to be cautious and wait. Maybe in a day or two or three or four … do not think for a moment that Hezbollah will allow such matters to pass,” he added.

Israeli aircraft continued to violate Lebanese airspace on Sunday, flying low over Beirut hours after the drones crashed, raising fears of a wider conflict.

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