The Hezbollah terror group fired an anti-aircraft missile at an Israeli drone flying over southern Lebanon on Thursday, officials in both countries said.
The Israel Defense Forces denied the Iran-backed terror group’s claim that the aircraft had been shot down over the Lebanese village of Nabatieh.
“A short while ago, anti-aircraft fire was detected from Lebanese territory at an IDF unmanned aerial vehicle. The aircraft was not damaged,” the army said in a statement.
Hezbollah later confirmed that it fired on the aircraft, saying in a brief statement, “At 2:05 p.m. Thursday afternoon, fighters of the Islamic resistance confronted a hostile drone in southern Lebanon’s skies with the appropriate weapons and forced it to leave [the area].”
Footage from Nabatieh that was shared on social media (above) appeared to show an anti-aircraft missile being fired into the air. An explosion was also heard in the area, residents told local media.
The exchange occurred amid heightened tensions between Israel and Iran, and amid a rapidly deteriorating political situation in Lebanon, where nearly two weeks of nonstop protests have paralyzed the country.
Earlier this month, a small IDF drone was shot down over southern Lebanon. The Israel Defense Forces said the aircraft was conducting “routine operations to secure the border” when it crashed inside Lebanese territory.
A video from Lebanon shared on social media showed that drone hovering in the air followed by cracks of gunfire. Photographs apparently taken shortly thereafter show a Lebanese man holding the drone, a collapsible model known as a Mavic, which is used by Israeli troops. The drone appears to be missing one of its rotors.
Last month, a similar drone crashed in southern Lebanon. Then too Hezbollah claimed to have shot it down.
Hezbollah vowed to start shooting down Israeli spy drones after a drone attack on the terror group’s Beirut stronghold in late August, which it blamed on Israel.
In response to Israel’s attack, on September 1, Iran-backed Shiite group fired three anti-tank missiles into Israel, nearly hitting a military vehicle and successfully striking an army base near the border. The IDF said it sustained no casualties.
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah later said his organization would respond to any further Israeli attacks with strikes “deep inside Israel” and not just along the border.
The Iran-backed Hezbollah, considered a terrorist organization by Israel and the United States, is a major political actor in Lebanon and a key backer of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad in his country’s civil war.