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Hezbollah group says it downed Israeli drone

China Daily Global | Updated: 2019-09-10 10:28

UN peacekeepers patrol in the southern Lebanese town of Ramyah on Monday. [ALI HASHISHO/REUTERS]

BEIRUT, Lebanon - The Hezbollah military group said it downed an Israeli drone in southern Lebanon on Monday, a week after the group's leader said it would shoot down Israeli drones in Lebanese airspace.

The drone is now in Hezbollah's possession, it said in a statement.

An Israeli military statement said one of its drones "fell inside southern Lebanon during routine operations". It did not say why the drone crashed, but said "there is no concern information could be taken from it". An Israeli military spokeswoman said it was a "simple drone" without elaborating.

Hezbollah said its fighters had used "appropriate weapons" to bring down the drone on the edge of the southern Lebanese town of Ramyah.

A correspondent for Hezbollah's al-Manar television said the drone had not sustained much damage, and had been in Lebanese airspace for around five minutes.

A week ago, after a drone attack in a Hezbollah-controlled Beirut suburb, Hezbollah and the Israeli army exchanged cross-border fire that marked their fiercest shelling exchange since the 2006 Lebanon war.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, as well as Lebanon's government, blamed Israel for the drone attack and had vowed to target Israeli drones entering Lebanon's airspace.

Nasrallah said while last week's flare-up with Israel was over, the episode had launched a "new phase" in which the Iran-backed group no longer had red lines it would not cross.

In that brief exchange of fire, Hezbollah said it destroyed an Israeli armored vehicle, killing and wounding those inside, and broadcast what it said was footage of two missiles hitting a moving vehicle.

Israel said it had faked soldier casualties to dampen any inclination of Hezbollah to escalate hostilities.

Nasrallah said the attack marked the first such targeting of positions inside Israel by the Islamist militants in a long time. More commonly, Hezbollah targets the Israeli-occupied Shebaa farms, which are on land which Lebanon claims as its territory.

Amid rising tensions in the region, Israel also raised the stakes last week by accusing Hezbollah, with Iranian assistance, of setting up a factory for precision-guided missiles in Lebanon's Bekaa valley.

Hezbollah has denied having production sites in Lebanon.

Agencies - Xinhua

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