Wed, 18 Sep 2019

Hezbollah leader slams Israel after alleged drone attack in Lebanon

By Jay Jackson, South America News
26 Aug 2019, 15:20 GMT+10

BEIRUT, Lebanon - Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has slammed the invasion of Lebanese airspace by two Israeli drones which have crashed in the capital Beirut.

"We are in a new stage," Nasrallah said in speech carried on Lebanese television on Sunday.

The "suicide drone" attack, he said, was intended for a specific target.

He described it as a "very, very, very dangerous development."

Israel in the past week has unleashed a series of aggressive measures, carrying out sustained airstrikes in Iraq, Syria and Gaza.

In the latest airstrikes in Syria on Saturday night, two Lebanese Hezbollah fighters were killed.

Sunday's near-dawn drone incursions into Lebanon were detected when one of the aircraft crashed, while the other exploded.

Hezbollah's media center in the southern suburbs of Beirut which the group dominates, incurred some damage, a Hezbollah official told the Reuters Thomson news agency.

Separately, a Hezbollah spokesman told Lebanon's state news agency NNA the second drone was rigged with explosives causing serious damage to the media center.

Nasrallah said it marked "the first clear, big, dangerous, breach of the rules of engagement drawn up in 2006" after the end of the 2006 Lebanon War, in which, according to Wikipedia, 1,191 to 1,300 Lebanese people and 165 Israelis were killed. The majority of Lebanese killed were civilians, with UNICEF estimating that 30% were children under 13. Almost three-quarters of the Israeli deaths (121) were soldiers, according to Wikipedia.

"If we keep quiet on this violation, this will lay a dangerous path for Lebanon," he said, adding that unstopped drone attacks could lead to a situation similar to what is happening in Iraq.

Iraq's Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), a grouping of Iraq's mostly Shi'ite Muslim paramilitary groups, many of which are backed by Iran, on Wednesday blamed recent blasts at their weapons depots and bases on the United States and Israel, Reuters reported Sunday.

"We will not allow the clock to be turned back, we will not allow Lebanon to be violated by bombardment, killing or explosions, nor the violation of sanctities. This for us is a red line," Nasrallah said.

He said it was the first Israeli attack inside Lebanon since 2006.

"The new aggression ... constitutes a threat to regional stability and an attempt to push the situation toward further tension," Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri said in a statement Sunday. He said Israeli craft were flying low over Beirut, Sidon and South Lebanon all day. He called on the international community to curb what he described as Israel's near-daily surveillance flights over the country, which he says pose a threat to regional stability.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun described the attack as "further evidence of Israel's aggressive intentions and its targeting of stability and peace in Lebanon and the region."

The Israeli military declined to comment.

The National News Agency said three journalists were slightly injured in the blast. AFP published photos showing extensive damage to the media centre struck.

Since the temporary ceasefire was agreed in 2006, Israel has consistently and routinely breached the truce by flying into Lebanese airspace 'in violation of resolution 1701 (2006) and Lebanese sovereignty.' "From February to June, UNIFIL recorded an average of 100 airspace violations each month, with 250.4 overflight hours on average. Unmanned aerial vehicles accounted for approximately 72% of the violations, while the remaining violations involved fighter aircraft or unidentified aircraft, UNIFIL (the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) reported last month.

"UNIFIL continued to protest all air violations to the Israel Defense Forces and to urge their immediate cessation," the report said.

Sunday's drone incursion into Lebanon, according to Reuters occurred hours after the Israeli military confirmed its warplanes had struck Iranian forces and Shi'ite militias near Syria's capital Damascus which, Israel claims, was planning to launch "killer drones" into Israel.

War monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said two members of Hezbollah, one Iranian and two more people of an unknown identify were killed in the Israeli strikes.

The Israeli military said its aircraft struck "Iranian Quds Force operatives and Shi'ite militias which were preparing to advance attack plans targeting sites in Israel from within Syria over the last number of days."

The elite Quds Force is linked to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

"Iran has no immunity anywhere. Our forces operate in every sector against the Iranian aggression," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted. "If someone rises up to kill you, kill him first."

(File photo).

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