Six Hezbollah fighters
killed in Israeli air strike

An Israeli Apache attack helicopter. (AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ)

BEIRUT - Hezbollah announced Sunday that six of its fighters were killed in an Israeli air strike in the Syrian sector of the Golan Heights, including the son of assassinated senior commander Imad Mughniyeh.


“A group of Hezbollah fighters was hit by an air strike by an Israeli enemy helicopter during a field reconnaissance mission in the town of Al-Amal in Syria’s Quneitra, which led the [death] of a number of our Mujahedeen brothers…” read an initial press release by the party.


Israel’s Haaretz newspaper quoted Western intelligence sources, who alleged that “a unit headed by Jihad Mughniyeh plotted to attack Israel with rockets, anti-tank missiles and bombs, and planned to send terror operatives into Israeli territory.”


“These attacks were meant to target Israeli troops and civilians in the Golan,” according to the source.


An Israeli source claimed the unit had been preparing for an attack on Israel but did not identify its members or provide any other details.


Hezbollah later issued a statement with the names of the fighters killed in the strike.


“With all faith and pride, the Islamic resistance in Lebanon announces to its loyal people and proud nation [the death] of the following martyrs…”


“Commander Mohammad Ahmad Issa, alias Abu Issa, (born in Arabsalim in 1972), Jihad Imad Mughniyeh, alias Jawad, (born in Tairdiba in 1989), Abbas Ibrahim Hijazi, alias Sayyed Abbas, (born in Ghaziyeh in 1979), Mohammad Ali Hassan Abu al-Hassan, alias Kazem, (born in Qana in 1985), Ghazi Ali Dawi, alias Daniel (born in Khyam in 1988), Ali Hassan Ibrahim, alias Ihab, (born in Yohmor al-Shaqif in 1993).”


Imad Mughniyeh, father of Jihad Imad Mughniyeh, was wanted for the 1985 hijacking of a TWA airliner in which a US Navy diver was killed, and for the 1992 bombing of Israel's embassy in Argentina, in which 29 people died. He was also believe to have orchestrated a number of kidnappings in Beirut during the 1980s. Mughniyeh was assassinated by a car bomb in Damascus in 2008. Israeli involvement was suspected in the bombing.


Syrian state television confirmed the Israeli air strike and stated that six people were killed in the raid, but made no mention of Hezbollah.



Border Incident


On Sunday, an Israeli unit attacked a Lebanese army post in South Lebanon’s town of Ayta al-Shaab, according to a statement by the Lebanese Armed Forces.


“Soldiers in four Israeli vehicles [came] behind the technical fence facing the town of Ayta al-Shaab and the Al-Hadb army post, and threw two tear gas grenades on Lebanese soil near the technical fence. The gas reached the aforementioned post, inducing dyspnea [difficulty breathing] in three soldiers,” an army statement read.


Both incidents come following an interview with Nasrallah which aired Thursday evening, in which the Hezbollah leader threatened to retaliate against Israel for repeated strikes in Syria.



Nasrallah’s threat


In the interview, Nasrallah told Al-Mayadeen television that Hezbollah has possessed Iranian Fateh-110 missiles - which have the range to strike anywhere in Israel - since 2006, adding that the party will always be prepared for a fight against the country.


“We can retaliate and it is our right to do so. The state and the resistance [Hezbollah] have the right to retaliate against any Israeli violation. We maintain this right and will never surrender it. However, whether or not to retaliate is subject to what is in our best interests.”


"The repeated bombings of targets in Syria are a major violation, and we consider that any strike against Syria is a strike against the whole of the resistance axis," he said, adding the "axis is capable of responding" at any time and renewing a threat to invade the Galilee region of northern Israel.


According to Pentagon officials, Hezbollah possesses more than 50,000 missiles, including some capable of reaching Tel Aviv.



History of Israeli involvement


The Israeli air force has carried out several raids against targets in Syria since the conflict started nearly four years ago, including strikes on depots of weapons intended for Hezbollah,


The most recent such attack occurred in December, when Israeli warplanes struck weapons warehouses near Damascus, according to a monitoring group, The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.


Israel has never officially confirmed that it carried out the strikes, but says it has a policy of preventing arms transfers to militant groups, including Hezbollah.


However, Israeli media stated after the December strikes that the air force has targeted arms convoys and depots of Iranian-made rockets.


In February 2014, two Israeli air raids struck a Hezbollah target on the Lebanon-Syria border, according to Lebanese security sources.


Hezbollah fought a bloody war with Israel in the summer of 2006 which killed some 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and 160 Israelis, the majority of whom were soldiers.


Syria and Israel are officially in a state of war; Israel has occupied the Golan Heights since the 1967 war. The occupation is not recognized by the international community.

An Israeli Apache attack helicopter. (AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ)

With all faith and pride, the Islamic resistance in Lebanon announces to its loyal people and proud nation [the death] of the following martyrs...