Iran’s defense minister says Hezbollah’s launch of a drone into Israeli airspace earlier this week proves Iranian military capabilities.
The Sunday statement by Gen. Ahmad Vahidi on Iranian state television came several days after the Lebanese militant group’s leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah claimed responsibility for the launch and said the aircraft was made in Iran.
Israeli warplanes shot down the unmanned plane, but the infiltration marked a rare breach of Israel’s tightly guarded airspace.
“Great job by Hezbollah,” Gen. Vahidi said. He said Hezbollah had the right to launch the drone since Israeli warplanes routinely violate Lebanon’s airspace.
On Saturday, Iran hinted that it was responsible for a drone that flew deep into Israel on October 6, before being shot down by the Israeli Air Force.
The commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari was quoted on the military corps’ Facebook page saying that his country had attained a level of “strategic deterrence.” The Revolutionary Guards’ website explained that Jafari was “hinting” at the approach of the unmanned aerial vehicle toward the Israeli nuclear reactor in Dimona.
On Thursday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah claimed responsibility for launching the drone, saying that it had been assembled by his Lebanese-based terrorist organization using parts provided by Iran. The rare admission by Nasrallah raised regional tensions at a sensitive time when the group’s backers, Syria and Iran, are under intense international pressure.
Nasrallah said the drone sent Saturday was named the Ayoub, honoring both an Islamic prophet (of patience) and a “martyr” by the name of Hussein Ayoub.
“Today we are uncovering a small part of our capabilities, and we shall keep many more hidden,” Nasrallah said in a televised address. “It is our natural right to send other reconnaissance flights inside occupied Palestine … This is not the first time and will not be the last.
“We can reach any place we want” inside Israel, he said.