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Israel says it hit Hezbollah sites in eastern Lebanon

Smoke billows after an Israeli strike on the southern Lebanese border village of Tayr Harfa on April 6, 2024.
Smoke billows after an Israeli strike on the southern Lebanese border village of Tayr Harfa on April 6, 2024.

Israel's military said Sunday its warplanes had struck Hezbollah sites in eastern Lebanon, where the Iran-backed group has a strong presence, in retaliation for one of its drones being downed.

A source close to Hezbollah told an AFP correspondent in eastern Lebanon's Baalbek region that the strikes targeted Janta and Sifri in the Bekaa Valley, around 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the closest Israeli frontier.

The Israeli military said on Telegram that "fighter jets struck a military complex and three other terrorist infrastructure sites belonging to Hezbollah's air defense network" in the region.

It said the strikes were "in retaliation for the attack" in which an army "drone was shot down" by a surface-to-air missile on Saturday.

A source from Lebanon's civil defense said there were no casualties.

Israel and Hezbollah have exchanged near-daily cross-border fire since Palestinian militant group Hamas carried out an unprecedented attack on southern Israel on October 7, triggering war in Gaza.

Hamas ally Hezbollah generally targets Israeli positions close to the border, while Israel has carried out deeper raids into Lebanese territory, also targeting commanders from the Shiite Muslim militant group.

Hezbollah announced it had shot down an Israeli Hermes 900 drone over Lebanese territory on Saturday evening, after initially identifying it as a Hermes 450.

On Sunday, the group said it fired "dozens of Katyusha rockets" at two Israeli bases "in response to the enemy's attacks on the Bekaa area."

'Hangar' targeted

Sifri is located in the Bekaa Valley plain, while nearby Janta is an arid mountainous region closer to the border with Syria.

Lebanon's state-run National News Agency (NNA) said the target of the Israeli strikes in Sifri was a "hangar."

Israel launched similar strikes against Hezbollah targets in the Bekaa Valley in February after the group said it had shot down another Israeli drone.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech on Friday that his movement had not yet used its "main" weapons and reiterated that Hezbollah would cease its attacks only when the war in Gaza ends.

The cross-border hostilities have killed at least 359 people in Lebanon, mostly Hezbollah fighters, but also at least 70 civilians, according to an AFP tally.

The fighting has displaced tens of thousands of people in southern Lebanon and in northern Israel, where the military says 10 soldiers and eight civilians have been killed.

On Saturday the Risala Scout association, which is affiliated with the Hezbollah-allied Amal movement and operates emergency teams in south Lebanon, said a rescuer had died.

An official from the group told AFP he had been wounded days earlier in south Lebanon.

Separately, the NNA reported that a woman wounded previously in an "enemy drone" strike in the border village of Yarin had also died of her wounds.

The hostilities have raised fears of all-out conflict between Hezbollah and Israel, which last went to war in 2006.