Israel says local Hezbollah commanders killed in Lebanon strikes

Israel says local Hezbollah commanders killed in Lebanon strikes
Israel says local Hezbollah commanders killed in Lebanon strikes

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Smoke billows from the site of an Israeli airstrike on the southern Lebanese village of Majdel Zoun, on April 15, 2024, amid ongoing cross-border tensions as fighting continues between Israel and Palestinian Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. — AFP pic

BEIRUT, April 17 — Israel said Tuesday that its strikes in south Lebanon killed two local Hezbollah commanders and another operative, with the Iran-backed group saying three of its members were killed as it launched rockets in retaliation.

Israel and Hamas ally Hezbollah have been exchanging near-daily cross-border fire since the Palestinian militant group attacked southern Israel on October 7, triggering war in the Gaza Strip.

Tuesday’s exchanges came with regional tensions high after Iran launched missile and drone attacks on Israel over the weekend in retaliation for a deadly Israeli strike on Tehran’s consulate in Damascus.

The Israeli military said its “aircraft struck and eliminated Ismail Yusef Baz, the commander of Hezbollah’s coastal sector”, adding he was killed in south Lebanon’s Ain Baal area.

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In another statement, the military said “aircraft struck and eliminated the commander of the rockets and missiles unit of Hezbollah’s Radwan Forces in Lebanon’s central and western region”, referring to the group’s elite forces and identifying the fighter as Mohammed Shehoury.

It said the attack near south Lebanon’s Shehabiya also killed another “operative of Hezbollah’s rockets and missiles unit”.

Lebanon’s official National News Agency (NNA) reported one dead in an Israeli strike on a car in Ain Baal, about 15 kilometres (nine miles) from the border, and said another “enemy strike” targeted two cars in Shehabiya, resulting in an unspecified number of dead and wounded.

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Hezbollah said in a statement that Baz had been killed, without mentioning his rank or role, while a source close to the group told AFP that “the field commander in charge of the Naqura region” had been killed “in an Israeli strike”.

The powerful Shiah Muslim movement also announced Shehoury and another fighter had been killed, similarly without announcing their roles, while Hezbollah ally the Amal movement said one of its members was killed an “Israeli attack” in Ain Baal.

Retaliatory rockets

Hezbollah said it launched rockets at several Israeli military bases “in response to the Israeli enemy’s attacks” on Lebanese villages, in particular Ain Baal and Shehabiya.

Earlier Tuesday, Hezbollah had said its fighters launched an “air attack with suicide drones in two phases... striking the Iron Dome (air defence system) platforms and their crew” in the Beit Hillel area.

The Israeli military said “two armed” drones entered from Lebanon and exploded near Beit Hillel, with local Israeli authorities saying three people were wounded.

On Monday, Hezbollah targeted Israeli troops with explosive devices, wounding four soldiers who crossed into Lebanese territory, the first such attack in six months of clashes.

The violence has killed at least 368 people in Lebanon, mostly Hezbollah fighters but also at least 70 civilians, according to an AFP tally.

In Israel, the military says 10 soldiers and eight civilians have been killed near the northern border since hostilities began.

Tens of thousands of civilians have fled their homes on both sides of the border, with the violence fuelling fears of all-out conflict between Hezbollah and Israel, which last went to war in 2006. — AFP

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