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Israeli strike in Syria kills senior Hezbollah figures

An Israeli helicopter strike in Syria killed a commander from Lebanon's Hezbollah and the son of the group's late military leader Imad Moughniyah, Hezbollah said, in a major blow that could lead to reprisal attacks.

The strike hit a convoy carrying Jihad Moughniyah and commander Mohamad Issa, known as Abu Issa, in the province of Quneitra, near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, killing six Hezbollah members in all, a statement from the group said.

It comes just days after Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said frequent Israeli strikes in Syria were a major aggression, that the group was stronger than before and that Syria and its allies had the right to respond.

Shi'ite Muslim Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran and fought a 34-day war with Israel in 2006, has been fighting alongside President Bashar al-Assad's forces in Syria's four-year war.

Iran's semi-official Tabnak news site said several of its Revolutionary Guards had also been killed in the attack, without giving further details. State-run Iranian television said the identity of the "martyrs" could not be confirmed.

The Hezbollah-run al-Manar news channel said the Israeli attack suggested "the enemy has gone crazy because of Hezbollah's growing capabilities and it could lead to a costly adventure that will put the Middle East at stake".

Israel's military declined to comment, but an Israeli security source confirmed to Reuters that the Israeli military had carried out the attack.

It was not immediately clear what role Jihad Moughniyah, in his 20s, was playing in the fighting in Syria.

Hezbollah accused Israel in 2008 of assassinating his father, Imad Moughniyah, who was implicated in high-profile attacks on Israeli and Western targets and wanted by the United States. Israel denies any involvement in that killing.

Nabil Boumonsef, a columnist at the Lebanon newspaper an-Nahar, said he believed the strike was a direct response to Nasrallah's speech and could lead to a backlash.

"Killing the son of Moughniyah is dangerous. I do not think that the group can be quiet now, now that the father and the son are killed. I expect that it will do something," he said.

UN peacekeepers have intensified their patrols on the border between Lebanon and Israel, local sources said.

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Tags:  Israel  Syria  Hezbollah  strike  World  





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