Israel said to hit Hezbollah vehicle carrying arms in Syria, near Lebanon border

Conflicting reports on whether members of terror group killed; senior Hezbollah operative was reportedly in car; images posted to social media show burnt and mangled vehicle

A vehicle allegedly used by Hezbollah to transfer arms targeted by the IDF near the Lebanon border in Syria, April 15, 2020 (Channel 13 screenshot)
A vehicle allegedly used by Hezbollah to transfer arms targeted by the IDF near the Lebanon border in Syria, April 15, 2020 (Channel 13 screenshot)

Israel reportedly carried out a strike Wednesday on a Hezbollah vehicle in Syria, close to the Lebanese border.

Initial reports said a number of Hezbollah terrorists were killed in the strike on a civilian vehicle transporting weaponry from Syria to Lebanon. But later reporting indicated that though several people were injured, none were killed.

Arab media reports said the occupants of the car included a senior Hezbollah operative by the name of Imad Karimi.

Images posted on social media appeared to show a mangled and burnt vehicle.

Neither Hezbollah nor the Israel Defense Forces immediately responded to the reports.

Israel has long maintained that it would not accept the establishment of a permanent military presence in Syria by Hezbollah or Iran, which backs the Lebanese terror group.

Though Israeli officials generally refrain from taking responsibility for specific strikes in Syria, they have acknowledged conducting hundreds to thousands of raids in the country since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011. These have overwhelmingly been directed against Iran and its proxies, notably the Lebanese Hezbollah terror group, but the IDF has also carried out strikes on Syrian air defenses when those batteries have fired at Israeli jets.

An agreement with Russia was supposed to push Iranian and Tehran-backed militias, including Hezbollah, dozens of kilometers away from the border.

The reported strike came days after the IDF accused the Syrian army of helping Hezbollah establish a permanent military presence on the Golan Heights, releasing video footage showing a senior Syrian officer visiting the region.

Undated video footage released by the Israel Defense Forces reportedly showing a senior Syrian officer, Lua’a Ali Ahmad Asa’ad, visiting Hezbollah sites along the Golan Heights. (Screen capture: Israel Defense Forces)

“Even during the coronavirus period, the new commander of the Syrian army’s 1st Division, Lua’a Ali Ahmad Asa’ad, continues to help and allow the Hezbollah terror group establish a front on the Golan Heights,” the IDF said in a statement.

The Israeli military released video footage from the border from one of its surveillance cameras, showing Asa’ad and a number of other army officers walking around an unidentified area along the border.

“In the clip, the new division commander is seen on a patrol of the front, including passing through areas known to be used by Hezbollah, with the head of Hezbollah’s southern command, Hajj Hashem,” the IDF said.

In a tacit threat, the Israeli military added that the Syrian regime would “be held responsible for all enemy activities emanating from its territory.”

The military refused to comment on when and where exactly the footage was filmed.

Earlier last month, the IDF accused the Hezbollah terror group and the Syrian army of being behind an attempted sniper attack against its soldiers in the Golan Heights, which was thwarted by an Israeli strike on the suspects’ car.

A vehicle that was reportedly struck by an Israeli missile strike in Syria, near the Golan border with Israel, on March 2, 2020. (Courtesy)

The military said at the time that in the months preceding the incident Israeli troops saw Hezbollah fighters and Syrian soldiers preparing for an attack, filming the border area with smartphones and professional cameras and measuring wind speed from different locations in the supposedly demilitarized buffer zone between the two countries — in what the IDF said appeared to be efforts to identify a target and improve snipers’ accuracy.

Judah Ari Gross and agencies contributed to this report.

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