The Iran-backed Hezbollah movement said yesterday it had downed and seized an Israeli drone as it flew across the Lebanese border, a week after a flash confrontation between the arch-foes.
Israel’s army said a drone it was operating “fell” in Lebanon on Sunday. In what appeared to be a response, an air strike at “around midnight” killed 18 pro-Iranian fighters in eastern Syria, a monitor said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights could not confirm whether that raid was Israeli.
Later yesterday, the Israeli army said rockets had been fired from Syria but failed to reach their targets.
Hezbollah had issued a statement saying that some of its fighters “confronted with the appropriate weapons an Israeli drone” heading towards the Lebanese border village of Ramyeh overnight.
The Shia militant group said it subsequently retrieved the device, but did not provide pictures.
An Israeli army spokeswoman told AFP a drone “fell” in Lebanese territory, adding that “there is no risk of a breach of information”.
The incident was a sequel to an escalation between the two foes that started on the evening August 24 when an Israeli strike killed two Hezbollah operatives in Syria.
Israel said that strike was to prevent a drone attack on its territory by an Iranian force.
The operation was followed hours later by what Hezbollah described as an Israeli drone attack on its Beirut stronghold.
That led to an escalation in rhetoric and heightened fears of all-out conflict between Hezbollah and Israel, whose main allies Iran and the United States, respectively, are also at loggerheads.
On September 1, Hezbollah fired anti-tank missiles at an Israeli military vehicle and battalion headquarters and Israel responded with a salvo of artillery shells.