Syrian officer killed in alleged Israeli strike; Hezbollah explosive drone hits north

State media says Israeli drones struck military sites in southern Syria; separately IDF says it targeted weapons depot belonging to Lebanese terror group

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

A smoke plume billows following an Israeli strike in south Lebanon from a position along the border in northern Israel on June 18, 2024.  (Jalaa MAREY / AFP)
A smoke plume billows following an Israeli strike in south Lebanon from a position along the border in northern Israel on June 18, 2024. (Jalaa MAREY / AFP)

A Syrian military officer was killed in an alleged Israeli airstrike in southern Syria on Wednesday morning, the state-run SANA news agency reported.

Citing a military source, SANA said two Syrian military sites in Quneitra and Daraa were targeted by Israeli drones. The strikes also caused “material losses,” the report added.

There was no comment on the strike from the Israel Defense Forces, which has carried out hundreds of strikes inside Syria since the outbreak of that country’s civil war in 2011, mainly targeting attempts to transfer weapons to the Hezbollah terror group, an Iranian proxy, or to keep Iranian fighters themselves from gaining a foothold near Israel’s border.

Alleged Israeli strikes have ramped up since the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip began on October 7, when the Iran-backed Palestinian terror group launched a massive cross-border attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people.

Israel responded with a military offensive to destroy Hamas and free the 251 hostages that terrorists kidnapped from Israel during the October 7 onslaught and took as hostages to Gaza.

Hezbollah has been exchanging near-daily fire with the Israeli army since the day after the Hamas attack. 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.

On Wednesday morning, the IDF said an explosive-laden drone launched from Lebanon struck the Metula area in northern Israel. The drone caused damage to a vehicle in the community. but no injuries.

The military said additional suspected drones were shot down by air defenses over the northern town of Sde Eliezer and over southern Lebanon on Wednesday.

Overnight, a drone strike was carried out against a Hezbollah weapons depot in southern Lebanon’s Yaroun, where the IDF said it identified a cell of operatives.

At the same time, another strike was carried out against infrastructure belonging to the terror group in Baraachit, the military added on Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday afternoon, the IDF said it struck a building in the coastal town of Borgholiyeh, just north of Tyre.

Footage posted to social media showed the strike. The IDF also published footage of the strike.

Another site belonging to the terror group was struck in Khiam, the military said.

Following the strikes, Hezbollah announced the deaths of five members.

Also Wednesday, a barrage of some 15 rockets was launched from Lebanon at the Kiryat Shmona area.

Hezbollah took responsibility for the attack, claiming to have targeted a military base.

The IDF said some of the rockets were intercepted by air defenses, and it shelled the launch sites with artillery.

Some of the rockets caused damage to property and sparked fires in Kiryat Shmona, authorities said.

The exchange of fire on Wednesday came after IDF generals approved battle plans for an offensive in Lebanon a night earlier.

Israel has warned it can no longer tolerate Hezbollah’s presence along its border, with tens of thousands of Israelis displaced from their homes in the north due to the rocket and drone attacks, and has warned that should a diplomatic solution not be reached it will turn to military action to push Hezbollah northward.

Earlier Tuesday, Hezbollah released footage from what it said was one of its reconnaissance drones flying over northern Israel, including the Haifa port. It was unclear when the roughly 10 minutes of footage released by Hezbollah were captured, and the IDF did not immediately comment on the video.

A still image of Haifa Bay from footage of northern Israel claimed by Hezbollah to have been captured with a drone on an unspecified date and published on June 18, 2024. (Screenshot, X, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

The IDF did say that it had targeted several Hezbollah operatives on Tuesday involved in launching drones at northern Israel.

The near-daily skirmishes on the border have resulted in 10 civilian deaths on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of 15 IDF soldiers and reservists.

Across the border, Hezbollah has named 348 members who have been killed by Israel, mostly in Lebanon but some also in Syria. In Lebanon, another 63 operatives from other terror groups, a Lebanese soldier, and dozens of civilians have been killed.

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