IDF: Lebanon strike targeted Iranian militia members involved in rocket fire on north

One of 3 reportedly killed said to be weapons technician in division that operates alongside Hezbollah; military says it also hit positions belonging to Tehran-backed terror group

A UNIFIL (the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) patrol drives past the wreckage of a car that was targeted in an Israeli strike on March 2, 2024, near the southern Lebanese town of Naqoura. (AFP)
A UNIFIL (the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) patrol drives past the wreckage of a car that was targeted in an Israeli strike on March 2, 2024, near the southern Lebanese town of Naqoura. (AFP)

The Israel Defense Forces said it struck a vehicle near southern Lebanon’s Naqoura on Saturday, targeting operatives belonging to the Imam Hossein Division, an Iranian militia that operates alongside Hezbollah.

According to the IDF, the operatives were involved in recent rocket fire on northern Israel.

Arab media reports, citing Lebanese sources, said three people were killed in the strike on a vehicle on a coastal road.

One of the men was a weapons technician, a security source in Lebanon told the Reuters news agency.

The IDF also said fighter jets carried out strikes on Hezbollah positions in Labbouneh, and two more buildings belonging to the terror group in Blida overnight.

It published footage showing the strike on the vehicle and the Hezbollah compounds.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, Hezbollah announced the deaths of seven more members killed “on the road to Jerusalem,” its term for operatives slain in Israeli strikes.

Hezbollah has named 229 members who have been killed by Israel during the ongoing skirmishes, mostly in Lebanon, but some also in Syria. In Lebanon, another 37 operatives from other terror groups, a Lebanese soldier, and at least 30 civilians, three of whom were journalists, have been killed.

Since October 8, Hezbollah-led forces have attacked Israeli communities and military posts along the border on a near-daily basis, with the group saying it is doing so to support Gaza amid the war against Hamas there.

So far, the skirmishes on the border have resulted in six civilian deaths on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of ten IDF soldiers and reservists. There have also been several attacks from Syria, without any injuries.

Illustrative: Building in Kiryat Shmona damaged by rocket fire from Lebanon on February 28, 2024. (Kiryat Shmona Municipality)

Officials close to US President Joe Biden are concerned that Israel is planning to launch a ground operation against Hezbollah in Lebanon in the coming months, US media reported Thursday.

According to the CNN report, the Biden administration has held intelligence briefings on the matter, preparing for the possibility that the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group cannot be made to retreat from the border through diplomatic measures.

Speaking to the network on the condition of anonymity, one senior official said that the Biden administration was “operating in the assumption” that a ground operation would occur in the coming months.

The Biden administration has tasked special envoy Amos Hochstein with forging a deal to end the fighting. Additionally, France delivered a written proposal to Beirut aimed at ending hostilities last month. It included negotiations to settle the disputed Lebanon-Israel frontier and a withdrawal of Hezbollah’s Radwan elite unit 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the border.

Israel has warned that it will no longer tolerate the presence of Hezbollah along the Lebanon frontier, where it could attempt to carry out an attack similar to the massacre committed by Hamas in the south on October 7.

Hezbollah fighters and supporters attend the funeral of Ali al-Debs, one of the terror group’s commanders killed by an Israeli air strike two days earlier, in Lebanon’s southern city of Nabatieh on February 16, 2024. (Mahmoud Zayyat/AFP)

A failure of international diplomacy to force Hezbollah away from the border would necessitate an Israeli offensive, the country has said.

The Israeli strikes on Iranian targets in Lebanon came a day after Iran alleged a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards navy serving as a military adviser in Syria was killed in an IDF strike.

Iranian media reports said Reza Zarei was killed along with two members of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group.

The IRGC have scaled back deployment of their senior officers in Syria due to a spate of deadly Israeli strikes and were relying more on allied Shiite militia to preserve their sway there, Reuters reported in February.

There was no comment from Syrian authorities.

There was also no statement from Israel, which rarely comments on individual strikes targeting Syria, but it has repeatedly said it will not allow Iran, which backs Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government, to expand its presence there.

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