An Israeli helicopter strike in Syria killed five members of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, including the son of the group’s late military leader Imad Moughniyah, sources close to Hezbollah said, in an attack that could trigger reprisals.
Israel’s military declined to comment, but Israel’s Ynet news website quoted an Israeli military source as saying the attack had targeted “terrorists who intended to attack Israel”.
The missile strike hit Jihad Moughniyah’s convoy in the Syrian province of Quneitra, near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, the Lebanese sources said.
The strike comes three days after Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, said he considered frequent Israeli strikes in Syria as a major aggression, and that Damascus and its allies had the right to respond.[At the "right" time and place, of course!]
Hezbollah has been fighting alongside forces of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, in the country’s nearly four-year-old civil war.
The Hezbollah-run al-Manar news channel did not mention Moughniyah but said Hezbollah had confirmed that a group of its fighters were killed while they were checking an area in Quneitra.
It said Hezbollah would announce the names of the dead on Sunday night.
“An Israeli helicopter fired two missiles on Amal Farms in Quneitra,” the Lebanese news channel said, adding that two reconnaissance planes had also been seen flying over the area.
Quneitra has seen heavy fighting between forces loyal to Assad and rebels including fighters linked to al-Qaida.
Israel has struck Syria several times since the start of the war, mostly destroying weapons such as missiles that Israeli officials said were destined for Hezbollah, Israel’s long-time foe in neighbouring Lebanon.
Syria said last month that Israeli jets had bombed areas near Damascus international airport and in the town of Dimas, near the Lebanese border.
Imad Moughniyah, who was on the United States’ most-wanted list for attacks on Israeli and western targets, was assassinated in Damascus in 2008.