Iran says one of its generals was killed in an airstrike in Syria attributed to the Israeli military.
General Mohammad Allahdadi, a former brigade commander in Iran's Revolutionary Guard, died in the attack Sunday along with six members of the Lebanese Shi'ite group, Hezbollah.
In a statement on its website, the Revolutionary Guard said General Allahdadi was in Syria advising President Bashar al-Assad's government on how to counter Islamic State militants.
Also killed in the bombing was Jihad Moughniyah, the son of Hezbollah's slain military leader Imad Moughniyah.
Israel has not confirmed the alleged airstrike. A U.N. spokesman said peacekeepers along the border saw drones coming from Israel before the strike and returning afterward. The official did not say whether the drones were armed.
Iran and Hezbollah support Mr. Assad in Syria's protracted, bloody internal conflict between the state, multiple insurgent groups and Islamic State fighters.
University of Maryland adjunct professor and Middle East researcher Firas Maksad told VOA the general's presence alongside Hezbollah commanders is "further proof of the degree to which Iran is directly involved" in the area.
"Essentially what Iran is doing is building its capabilities on two fronts now - on the Israeli-Lebanese front, but now, more recently, on the Syrian-Israeli front in the Golan Heights. And those, in Iran's mind, are meant as a deterrent to any possible Israeli attack against it's nuclear facilities," said Maksad.
The last time tensions escalated between Israel and Hezbollah, Maksad points out, full-scale war broke out in 2006.
"If this is a geopolitical chess game between Iran and Hezbollah on one hand and Israel on the other, Israel just check-mated the other parties," said Maksad. "Hezbollah is in a tough spot, because should it choose not to react, Israeli would have succeeded in sort of setting new rules of the game or new rules of engagement in its ongoing struggle with Iran and Hezbollah. But should Iran and Hezbollah decide to respond, the consequences could be tremendous."
Maksad said a cross-border response from the Hezbollah-Iran alliance is unlikely, while Israeli interests outside the region could be targeted in retaliation.
Some material for this report came from AP, AFP and Reuters.