A first-person shooter game developed by Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah was available on the Google Play store up until last week, according to a report in Forbes magazine.
The Android game set against the backdrop of the Syrian civil war was downloaded more than 10,000 times from the app store, and earned a four-star rating by users, the report said.
The game, called “Sacred Defense – Protecting the Homeland And Holy Sites,” allowed characters to throw bombs at Israeli soldiers, and engage in battles against the Islamic State jihadist group in various locations in Syria.
Forbes said the game aimed to “disseminate Hezbollah propaganda” and was the first known app developed by a terrorist group to be hosted by the Google platform. The app was no longer available on the Google platform on Sunday.
The report published Thursday said the Google Play store was hosting another Hezbollah app, but did not disclose its title.
The Shiite paramilitary group released the low-cost spinoff of bestselling video game “Call of Duty” to glorify the group’s battles in the Syrian conflict.
Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran and is often considered to have more firepower than Lebanon’s own regular army, deployed fighters in Syria in 2013. They have since fought alongside the forces of President Bashar Assad, an intervention widely seen as a contributing factor in the regime’s survival.
Hezbollah is designated a terror organization, either entirely or partly, by Israel, the United States, the European Union and other countries.
Since 2013, Israel has carried out hundreds of attacks on what it says are Iranian military targets and arms deliveries to Hezbollah, with the goal of stopping its main enemy Iran from entrenching itself militarily in neighboring Syria.
Most airstrikes have passed with no retaliation. Last week, Iran fired a missile from Syria at Israel following a rare daytime strike near Damascus. It was intercepted by an Iron Dome air defense battery.
Jerusalem has recently begun to open up about the years-long campaign in Syria, a move some have said may push Iran, Hezbollah or Syria into responding.
In an interview with Beirut based al-Mayadeen television on Saturday, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Syria and Hezbollah could “at any moment” decide to “deal with … Israeli aggression.”
“Don’t make an error of judgement and don’t lead the region towards war or a major clash,” Nasrallah said, adding that Hezbollah possessed “high-precision missiles” capable of hitting anywhere in Israel.
On Sunday, Netanyahu hit back at Nasrallah’s remarks, warning the Hezbollah leader of the IDF’s “lethal” power.
Netanyahu said Nasrallah was “embarrassed” by Israel’s recent operation to destroy Hezbollah’s cross-border tunnels, and said the paramilitary group was struggling financially in the wake of sanctions imposed on its sponsor Iran.
“Believe me, Nasrallah has good reasons not to want to feel the might of our arm,” Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.
Israel has repeatedly warned that it will not allow Iranian or Hezbollah troops to maintain a permanent presence in postwar Syria.