Hezbollah says it launched drones at Israeli bases after fighter's killing

Hezbollah says it launched drones at Israeli bases after fighter's killing

BEIRUT: Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah movement said it launched drone attacks on two north Israel bases Tuesday in retaliation for the killing of a fighter Israel described as "significant."

Since Hamas's unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel triggered war in Gaza, there have been near-daily cross-border exchanges of fire between Hezbollah and the Israeli army.

But Hezbollah has stepped up its rocket attacks on Israeli positions in recent days, with the latest assault targeting beyond the border area that the group usually strikes.

Hezbollah launched "a combined air attack using decoy and explosive drones that targeted" two Israeli bases north of Acre, the group announced in a statement, while Israel said they did not hit their targets.

The Lebanese group added that the attack was "in response" to an Israeli drone strike that killed one of its members in south Lebanon earlier in the day. Israel's army said it had "successfully intercepted two suspicious aerial targets off the northern coast."

On Tuesday morning, a source close to Hezbollah told AFP that an Israeli drone strike deep into Lebanon killed an engineer working for the group's air defence forces as he was travelling in a vehicle.

The strike hit the Abu al-Aswad area near the coastal city of Tyre, some 35 kilometres (22 miles) from the border, an AFP journalist reported.

The fighter's vehicle was completely burnt out.

Hezbollah said one of its fighters had been killed by Israeli fire, adding he was a resident of the area where the vehicle was struck.

The group also said another fighter had been killed by Israel in a statement overnight.

Earlier Tuesday, the Israeli army had said it killed "two significant terrorists in Hezbollah's aerial unit" on Tuesday morning and overnight.

The fighter killed Tuesday was "heavily involved in the planning and execution of terrorist attacks against Israel," it added.

On Sunday evening, Hezbollah shot down an Israeli drone, both sides said.

Since October 7, at least 378 people have been killed in Lebanon, mostly Hezbollah fighters but also 70 civilians, according to an AFP tally.

Israel says 11 soldiers and eight civilians have been killed on its side of the border.