Two Hezbollah members killed as Israel allegedly strikes Syria-Lebanon border

Several rockets fired at northern Israel after attack on truck near in Qusayr south of Homs, thought to be a Hezbollah stronghold

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

A truck in flames following an alleged Israeli airstrike near the Syrian town of Qusayr, February 25, 2024. (X screengrab: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
A truck in flames following an alleged Israeli airstrike near the Syrian town of Qusayr, February 25, 2024. (X screengrab: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Two members of the Hezbollah terror group were killed as Israel allegedly carried out an airstrike on a truck near the Syrian-Lebanon border Sunday morning.

Footage showed the truck engulfed in flames on a road outside Qusayr, a Syrian city south of Homs near the border with northern Lebanon.

Shortly after the strike, Iran-backed Lebanese terror group Hezbollah announced that two of its operatives were killed “on the road to Jerusalem,” its term for operatives slain in Israeli strikes. It did not say where the two were killed.

The pair, named as Hussein al-Dirani and Ahmed al-Afi, were from Qsarnaba and Brital, two towns in the Baalbek District, adjacent to the Syrian region where the alleged Israeli strike took place.

Their deaths brought the terror group’s toll since the beginning of the war in the Gaza Strip to 214.

Shortly after the reported strike and throughout Sunday afternoon, several volleys of rockets were fired from Lebanon at northern Israel, all apparently landing in open areas, according to the Israel Defense Forces and police.

There were no reports of damage or injuries.

Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying it targeted an army base near Margaliot and IDF positions near Kiryat Shmona. It also claimed to have targeted an army base in the Mount Dov region on the border.

The Israeli military declined to comment on the strike near Qusayr, an area identified in the past as a Hezbollah stronghold. There was no comment from Syrian authorities.

While Israel does not, as a rule, comment on specific strikes in Syria, it has admitted to conducting hundreds of sorties against Iran-backed terror groups attempting to gain a foothold in the country over the last decade. The Israeli military says it attacks arms shipments believed to be bound for those groups, chief among them Hezbollah. Additionally, airstrikes attributed to Israel have repeatedly targeted Syrian air defense systems.

Active hostilities between Israel and Iran-backed groups, especially Hezbollah, have escalated since October 7, when Palestinian terror group Hamas launched an onslaught into southern Israel, killing some 1,200 people and kidnapping 253 others. Israel has responded with a devastating military campaign in Gaza aimed at toppling Hamas and freeing the hostages.

Since October 8, Hezbollah has launched hundreds of rockets, drones and anti-tank missiles at northern Israel, drawing Israeli strikes in response.

Syria alleged last week that an Israeli airstrike killed two people in an apartment building in the Kafr Sousa district in Syria’s capital Damascus — a neighborhood that hosts residential buildings, schools, and Iranian cultural centers and lies near a large, heavily guarded complex used by security agencies. Iran’s semi-official Student News Network said the attack did not kill any Iranian nationals or advisers.

Iran, which also backs Hamas, has sought to stay out of Israel’s war with the terror group directly even as its proxies have entered the fray from Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, and Syria — the so-called “Axis of Resistance” that is hostile to Israeli and US interests.

So far, the skirmishes with Hezbollah on Israel’s northern border have resulted in six civilian deaths on the Israeli side, as well as the deaths of 10 IDF soldiers and reservists. There have also been several attacks from Syria, without any injuries.

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