Israeli drones in Beirut threaten Lebanon's sovereignty: PM Hariri

Clay Curtis
August 25, 2019

Images from the scene of the two drones that crashed in Beirut on Sunday reveal the unmanned aerial devices were manufactured in Iran and not in Israel, as was reported in Arab media earlier.

The incident came hours after Israel's military said it had thwarted an imminent attack by Iran and its proxies with airstrikes that targeted an area south of the Syrian capital Damascus, near its airport.

The group's leader Hassan Nasrallah is expected to comment on the incident in a speech scheduled for 5 PM on Sunday.

Lebanese security stand near the site where an Israeli drone was said to have crashed in a stronghold of the Lebanese Hezbollah group, in a southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019.

A war monitor said the air raids in the southeast of Damascus killed two Hezbollah members and one Iranian among five fighters.

He said a second drone, which appeared to have been sent by Israel to search for the first one less than 45 minutes later, exploded in the air and crashed in an empty plot nearby, shattering windows in surrounding buildings.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said two Israeli drones which crashed in a suburb of Beirut dominated by the Iranian-backed Hezbollah were created to stir up regional tensions.

"Two drones belonging to the Israeli enemy violated Lebanese airspace (at dawn). over the southern suburbs of Beirut".

The Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), a grouping of Iraq's mostly Shi'ite paramilitary groups, said the United States had allowed four Israeli drones to enter the region accompanying USA forces and carry out missions on Iraqi territory.

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Lebanon has complained to the United Nations about Israeli aircraft regularly violating the country's airspace in recent years.

The army said it had sealed off the area of Beirut and that the military police had opened an investigation.

A Lebanese army statement said an Israeli drone came down while the other exploded in the sky over Beirut, causing material damage.

"This new aggression... forms a threat to regional stability and an attempt to push the situation towards more tension", he says in a statement.

Netanyahu hinted on Thursday of possible Israeli involvement in attacks against Iranian-linked targets in Iraq.

Residents in Dahyeh said they had heard the sound of a blast.

The Shiite movement and Israel have upped their belligerent rhetoric in recent months, after fighting several wars the last of which was in 2006. They fought a month-long war in 2006 in which almost 1,200 people, mostly civilians, died in Lebanon and 158 people died in Israel, mostly soldiers. Israel views Iran as its greatest threat and has said it will not tolerate a permanent Iranian presence in Syria or the transfer of advanced weapons to Hezbollah.

The New York Times, citing unnamed USA officials, said that Israel was behind the 19 July strike on an arms depot that the officials said was being used by Iran to move weapons to Syria. The volatile border between the two countries, which remain technically in a state of war, has been mostly calm since.

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