Israeli Air Strike In Syria Kills Prominent Hezbollah Leaders

An Israeli air strike has killed five prominent Hezbollah fighters in the Syrian sector of the Golan Heights, reports BBC News.

Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV said they were killed in Quneitra province “during a field reconnaissance mission.”

“A group of Hezbollah mujahideen were martyred in a Zionist rocket attack in Quneitra, and their names will be revealed later,” said a message on Hezbollah’s Al-Manar news channel.

The Jerusalem Post reported the Al-Manar news channel said the attack suggested that “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.”

According to Al Jazeera, an Israeli helicopter fired missiles on Sunday at Jihad Mughniyeh’s car in Quneitra, near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, a Hezbollah statement said. Mughniyeh, 20, was the son of Imad Mughniyeh, who was killed in the Syrian capital Damascus in 2008 in a suspected Israeli attack.

Imad Mughniyeh was on the most wanted list of the U.S. for attacks on Israeli and Western targets until his death. Mughniyeh was widely believed to be behind a wave of Western hostage-taking in Lebanon during the 1980s.

“Mohamad Issa, the chief of Hezbollah operations in Syria, who died in the air strike is also a big name, making this a major strike on Hezbollah. The group says there will be retaliation to the attack,” said Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston, reporting from the Lebanese capital Beirut.

Israeli Channel 10 television said an official Israeli source had confirmed that Israel had mounted an attack inside Syria on Sunday. Israel’s Ynet news website also quoted a military source as saying the attack had targeted “terrorists who intended to attack Israel.” They claimed those targeted were conducting reconnaissance for a Hezbollah attack.

The incident comes days after a warning to Israel by the Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, that his forces might retaliate against what he called repeated Israeli strikes inside Syria, according to BBC News. Nasrallah said he considered frequent Israeli strikes in Syria as a major aggression, and that Syria and its allies had the right to respond. He said his forces had been stockpiling weapons for such a confrontation, and that these included long-range missiles could hit every part of Israel.

Hezbollah, a political group with a powerful military wing, is fighting alongside forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against Sunni armed groups trying to overthrow his regime.

Most of the Golan Heights, a rocky plateau in Southwestern Syria, was seized by Israel from Syria in the closing stages of the 1967 Middle East War. About 200 square miles remained under Syrian control. The two countries remain technically in a state of war, and UN observers are deployed to monitor a 45 mile long demilitarized zone.

[Image via Yeshivanet]