Hezbollah hits deep in north Israel after strike kills key member near Baalbek


Hezbollah on Sunday fired rockets at an area deep in north Israel after an Israeli airstrike Saturday killed one of its operatives near the eastern city of Baalbek.

In a statement, the group said it launched dozens of Katyusha rockets at the Nimra military base west of Tiberias in response to the assassination near Baalbek. It described Nimra as "one of the main bases in the northern region" of Israel.

In an earlier statement, the group said it destroyed espionage equipment at the al-Raheb Israeli post with the "appropriate weapons."

Shortly after the Nimra attack, Israeli airstrikes hit a house in the Tyre district town of Maaroub and several border towns.

The Israeli army said Saturday that the slain Hezbollah operative was part of the group's air defense unit.

Hezbollah has traded near daily fire with the Israeli army across Lebanon's southern border since its Palestinian ally Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, triggering the war in Gaza.

"A local Hezbollah official" was killed in an "Israeli drone" strike on a vehicle near the eastern city of Baalbek, a source close to the group told AFP on Saturday.

Lebanon's official National News Agency (NNA) reported one person was killed when an "enemy drone" targeted a vehicle in the Shaat area, around 15 kilometers (nine miles) north of Baalbek.

The area is around 100 kilometers from Lebanon's southern border with Israel.

The Israeli military said in a statement that the air force "operated in the area of Baalbek to strike and eliminate... a key operative in Hezbollah's Aerial Defense Unit."

The Hezbollah operative "took part in the planning and carrying out of numerous terror attacks" against Israel and helped build up the group's "arsenal of Iranian weapons," the statement added.

Hezbollah announced that a fighter from the area had been killed, identifying him as Maitham al-Attar.

Recent Israeli strikes in south Lebanon have killed two senior Hezbollah commanders -- one of them this week -- with the group raining rockets on northern Israel in response.

The cross-border exchanges of fire have largely been restricted to border areas, although Israel has repeatedly struck deep inside eastern Lebanon.

Hezbollah on Saturday claimed several attacks on Israeli positions near the southern border, including one with "explosive drones" that it said came in response to "Israeli enemy attacks" on south Lebanon villages.

Lebanon's NNA reported several Israeli strikes on areas in south Lebanon later Saturday.

Hezbollah says it is acting in support of Gazans and Hamas with its attacks, which began on October 8.

The escalating violence has raised fears of all-out war between Israel and Hezbollah, which last went to war in 2006.

The cross-border exchanges have killed at least 497 people in Lebanon, most of them fighters but also including 95 civilians, according to an AFP tally.

Israeli authorities say at least 16 soldiers and 11 civilians have been killed on their side of the border.