BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on the reported crash of two Israeli drones in Lebanon, following Israeli attacks on Iranian targets in neighboring Syria (all times local):
The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah says his group will confront and shoot down any Israeli drones that fly over Lebanon from now on.
Hassan Nasrallah’s speech Sunday came hours after one alleged Israeli drone crashed in the capital, Beirut, while another exploded, authorities there said.
Nasrallah said one of the drones had been flying low among buildings and was clearly on a military “suicide mission,” which he called “clear aggression.”
He also said two Hezbollah members were killed by Israeli airstrikes inside Syria late Saturday, promising retaliation at an unspecified time.
Israel said the airstrikes were to thwart an imminent drone strike against Israel by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ Al Quds Force.
Nasrallah said the strikes actually hit a Hezbollah rest house, marking a rare acknowledgement of member deaths in Syria by Israeli strikes.
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has described the crash of two Israeli reconnaissance drones over Beirut as a violation and “aggression” against Lebanese sovereignty.
He said Sunday that the developments overnight constitute a threat to regional stability and an attempt to push the situation toward more escalation.
Hariri’s comments were the first by a senior Lebanese official after two Israeli drones crashed in a Hezbollah stronghold in southern Beirut.
Israeli warplanes regularly violate Lebanese airspace and have struck inside neighboring Syria from Lebanon on several occasions, angering Hezbollah and Lebanese officials, who have complained to the United Nations in the past.
An Iranian general says Israeli strikes in Syria did not cause any damage or casualties among Iranian forces there.
The semi-official ILNA news agency quoted Gen. Mohsen Rezaei on Sunday as denying claims by the Israeli military that it thwarted an imminent Iranian drone attack on Israel, calling that a “lie.”
Israeli warplanes struck targets near the Syrian capital, Damascus, overnight.
Rezaei, a senior commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, says “the defenders of Syria and Iraq will soon give an answer” to recent attacks by Israel and the United States.
Iran is a key ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad and has sent military advisers and militias to aid his forces. Israel has repeatedly struck Iran-linked targets in Syria, saying it won’t tolerate a permanent Iranian presence there or the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah.
In recent days, U.S. officials have said that Israeli strikes have also hit Iranian targets in Iraq, in what would be a significant expansion of Israel’s campaign targeting Iranian military entrenchment in the region.
A spokesman for Lebanon’s Hezbollah says two Israeli drones crashed in Beirut without the militant group firing on them.
Mohammed Afif says a small, unmanned reconnaissance drone fell on the roof of a building housing Hezbollah’s media office in the Moawwad neighborhood in Dahyeh, the group’s stronghold in the southern part of the Lebanese capital.
He says a second drone which appeared to have been sent by Israel to search for the first drone less than 45 minutes later exploded in the air and crashed nearby — an explosion heard by residents of the area.
Afif told The Associated Press Sunday: “We did not shoot down or explode any of the drones.”
He says Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah will give the “appropriate” response in a televised appearance later Sunday.
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