Lebanon’s Hezbollah shoots down Israeli drone

Hezbollah also claimed that they captured the drone. (File/AFP)
Updated 09 September 2019

Lebanon’s Hezbollah shoots down Israeli drone

  • The Israeli drone is now in the hands of Hezbollah’s fighters
  • Al-Manar TV is run by the Iranian-backed group

BEIRUT: Iran-backed Hezbollah said it downed an Israeli drone in southern Lebanon early on Monday, a week after the group’s leader said it would shoot down Israeli drones in Lebanese airspace.

The drone is now in Hezbollah’s possession, the group said in a statement.

An Israeli military statement said one of its drones “fell inside southern Lebanon during routine operations.” It did not say why the drone crashed, but said “there is no concern information could be taken from it.” An Israeli military spokeswoman said it was a “simple drone” without elaborating.

Hezbollah said its fighters had used “appropriate weapons” to bring down the drone on the edge of the southern Lebanese town of Ramyah.

A correspondent for Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television reporting from the border said the drone had not sustained much damage, and had been in Lebanese airspace for around five minutes.

A week ago, after a drone attack in a Hezbollah-controlled Beirut suburb, Hezbollah and the Israeli army exchanged cross-border fire that marked their fiercest shelling exchange since the 2006 Lebanon war.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, as well as Lebanon’s government, blamed Israel for the drone attack and had vowed to target Israeli drones entering Lebanon’s airspace.

Nasrallah said while last Sunday’s flare-up with Israel at the border was over, the episode had launched a “new phase” in which the Iran-backed group no longer had red lines it would not cross.

In that brief exchange of fire, Hezbollah said it destroyed an Israeli armored vehicle, killing and wounding those inside, and broadcast what it said was footage of two missiles hitting a moving vehicle.

Israel said it had faked soldier casualties to dampen any inclination of Hezbollah to escalate hostilities.

Nasrallah said the attack marked the first such operation by Hezbollah in a long time, targeting positions inside Israel itself and not just inside the Israeli-occupied Shebaa farms, which Lebanon says belongs to Lebanon.

Amid rising tensions in the region, Israel also raised the stakes last week by accusing Hezbollah, with Iranian assistance, of setting up a factory for precision-guided missiles in Lebanon’s Bekaa valley.

Hezbollah has denied having production sites in Lebanon, but says it does possess precision-guided missiles.

Last week’s drone attacks and cross-border shelling came after Hezbollah, whose forces have fought in support of President Bashar Assad in Syria’s war, said two of its men were killed in an Israeli strike in Syria late last month.

Israel said its attack in Syria thwarted an Iran-led drone strike against it.

A Reuters witness at the Lebanese border near where the drone fell said the area was calm on Monday morning.

Any new war between Israel and Hezbollah would raise the risk of a wider conflict in the Middle East, at a time when Iran is defying US attempts to force it to renegotiate a 2015 nuclear deal it reached with world powers.

Israel is alarmed by Iran’s growing influence in the region through militia allies in countries including Syria and Iraq.


UAE examines thousands for COVID-19, opens new drive-through test facilities

Updated 39 min 19 sec ago

UAE examines thousands for COVID-19, opens new drive-through test facilities

  • The UAE has tested 40,000 people in the last two days for COVID-19
  • There have been a further 13 drive-through test facilities opened in the UAE

DUBAI: The UAE has tested more than 40,000 people for the coronavirus in the last two days, the Ministry of Health and Prevention confirmed on Sunday.

The continued increase in tests led to the detection of 331 new cases in the country, bringing the total number of people infected in the UAE to 2,990.

The number of fatalities has increased after the death of two people - both who had pre-existing health conditions - bringing the death toll to 14, the ministry added.

Meanwhile there have been more people recovering from COVID-19, the latest being 29 people making a full recovery, bring that total to 268.

The UAE continues to open drive-through testing facilities in the country.

The Abu Dhabi Health Services Company, SEHA, opened 13 of the new faciltities.

“In collaboration with our strategic partners across the UAE, SEHA has equipped all drive-through centers with the most advanced testing systems, techniques and globally-accredited health care teams,” said Group Deputy Chief Executive Officer, SEHA, Rashid Al-Qubaisi.

He said that all centers were equipped with the latest in testing systems and medical devices.

“There are 630 of the most experienced and qualified medical professionals from SEHA’s network, staffing the centers,” he added.

The test at the drive-through facilities take five minutes.

There are seven drive-through testing centers have opened, so far, in Abu Dhabi, with three in Abu Dhabi City, Al Wathba and Al Bahia – they are open between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., from Sunday to Thursday.

There are also two in Al Ain in the Asharj and Al Hili areas.

People can book an appointment through the SEHA hotline on 800 1717 or alternatively the SEHA smartphone app.

Both callers and users of the app be asked a series of questions to help evaluate their condition, and then given an appointment for a test.

Al-Qubaisi said priority will be given to people exhibiting symptoms of the virus, or those most vulnerable to the infection including pregnant women, the elderly, people with disabilities and those suffering from chronic illnesses.

The test costs $100.