Hezbollah on Wednesday vowed to retaliate for a Monday night attack on its forces that was widely reported to have been an Israeli airstrike, calling it an attack against all of Lebanon.
The statement on Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television station was the first acknowledgement of the strike for the terror group. Al-Manar had previously denied that a strike on the group’s forces had occurred, despite reports in Lebanese media earlier Wednesday that four Hezbollah operatives had been killed.
“The resistance will choose the right time and place to retaliate for the Israeli offensive,” Hezbollah was quoted as saying by Al-Manar.
The group denied that it had suffered any deaths or injuries in the strike, but said there had been material damage. It said the strike occurred near the city of Janta in the Bekaa Valley, a Hezbollah stronghold.
“This new assault is a flagrant aggression against Lebanon, its sovereignty and territories, not against the resistance only,” the Hezbollah statement said.
Lebanon’s Daily Star reported that two trucks transferring missiles and a missile launcher were targeted in the raid as they were being transported from Syria to a Hezbollah storage facility. However, Hezbollah denied that a missile or artillery site was the target.
The attack was widely reported upon and attributed to Israel on Monday night, and a senior Israeli security official told Time magazine on Tuesday that the Jewish state was indeed behind the bombing.
Lebanese President Michel Suleiman discussed the airstrike with Army Chief of Staff Maj. Walid Salman on Tuesday, the Beirut-based Daily Star reported, and the two discussed how to confront “such aggressions.”
There had been conflicting reports as to whether the strike in the mountainous Baalbek region occurred in Lebanese or Syrian territory.
Janta lies along a known smuggling route for arms between Syria and Lebanon, the Daily Star reported. According to a 2012 report, Hezbollah built a training facility at Janta “which includes a suspected driver training course, a 100-meter firing range and a possible urban terrain assault course.”
Hezbollah’s silence until now was seen as an attempt by the Shiite group, already tied down in Syria fighting for President Bashar Assad’s regime, to avoid being forced into responding to Israel.
The group fought a punishing month-long war with Israel in the summer of 2006.
The organization, considered a major political force in Lebanon, was also blamed for a bombing in Burgas, Bulgaria, in July 2012 in which five Israelis and a local bus driver were killed.