Hezbollah says it will shoot down Israeli drones entering Lebanon
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Hezbollah says it will shoot down Israeli drones entering Lebanon

Hassan Nasrallah threatens Israel with retaliation amid a reported drone strike by Israel

Photo released by the official website of the Iranian Defense Ministry on Aug. 8, 2019, shows Iranian-made smart bombs during an unveiling ceremony, Iran. The semi-official ILNA news agency quoted Iranian Gen. Mohsen Rezaei in August (Iranian Defense Ministry via AP)
Photo released by the official website of the Iranian Defense Ministry on Aug. 8, 2019, shows Iranian-made smart bombs during an unveiling ceremony, Iran. The semi-official ILNA news agency quoted Iranian Gen. Mohsen Rezaei in August (Iranian Defense Ministry via AP)

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has said his group will shoot down any Israeli drones that enter Lebanese airspace from now on.

Mr Nasrallah also vowed to retaliate following an Israeli airstrike inside Syria that took place hours earlier, which he said had killed two Hezbollah members.

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

A Hezbollah spokesman said earlier on Sunday that the group did not fire on any of the drones. He said it was likely the second drone had been armed, judging by the damage it had caused.

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

He said allowing Israel to keep flying drones over Lebanon would lead to a similar situation to Iraq, where a series of attacks there targeting military bases and weapons depots belonging to Iranian-backed militias had left the country on edge.

US officials say at least one of these attacks 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 Mr 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 said.

The downed drones and cross-border airstrikes come amid heightened tensions betweenIsrael and Iran, which backs Hezbollah.

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

Hezbollah spokesman Mohammed Afif said a small, unmanned reconnaissance drone fell on a building housing Hezbollah’s media office in the Moawwad neighbourhood in Dahyeh, the group’s stronghold in southern Beirut.

He said a second drone, which appeared to have been sent by Israel to search for the first one less than 45 minutes later, exploded in the air and crashed in an empty plot nearby, shattering windows in surrounding buildings.

There was no immediate comment from Israel about the drone incident or Hezbollah’s remarks.

Israeli warplanes regularly violate Lebanese airspace and have struck inside neighbouring Syria from Lebanon on several occasions, angering Hezbollah and Lebanese officials, who have complained to the United Nations.

The Lebanese Foreign Ministry counted 481 Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace in the past two months and instructed Lebanon’s representative to the UN to submit an immediate complaint.

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