Hezbollah leader says it downed Israel drone to boost deterrence

Hassan Nasrallah said Lebanon and the Lebanese people reserve the right to defend the country against Israeli attacks. (File/AFP)
Updated 10 September 2019

Hezbollah leader says it downed Israel drone to boost deterrence

  • Hassan Nasrallah said Lebanon and the Lebanese people reserve the right to defend the country against Israeli attacks

BEIRUT: Hezbollah’s leader said on Tuesday his Iran-backed movement had shot down an Israeli drone in Lebanon for the first time to strengthen deterrence against attack by arch-foe Israel.
On Monday, Hezbollah said it downed and took possession of an Israeli drone in south Lebanon after a flare-up at the border with Israel around a week ago.
The brief exchange of cross-border fire between Hezbollah and Israel marked the fiercest shelling exchange since the long-time enemies fought a deadly month-long war in 2006.
“Despite all the threats and intimidation, today we are affirming the balance of power and reinforcing the deterrent force that protects our country,” Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech on Tuesday at a rally marking the Shiite Muslim ceremony of Ashura.
He added that there were no longer red lines that Hezbollah would not cross in defending Lebanon from Israeli aggression.
He said this does not mean UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 war, would not be respected, but that Lebanon and its people had the right to self-defense.
The resolution banned all unauthorized weapons between the Litani River in south Lebanon and the UN-monitored frontier between Israel and Lebanon.
While the heavily-armed Hezbollah has largely kept its arms out of sight and pledged respect for resolution 1701, it retains a strong presence in the south where it enjoys wide support.
Lebanon’s government has long complained to the United Nations about regular Israeli military flights in its airspace in breach of 1701.
Tensions rose in late August when two drones crashed in a Beirut southern suburb, which Hezbollah blamed on Israel and vowed to retaliate. Nasrallah has since said the flare-up ended but had launched a “new phase” between the two sides.
President Michel Aoun said on Tuesday that Lebanon was committed to 1701, which he accused Israel of violating.
“Any escalation by (Israel) will cause the collapse of stability in the border area,” Aoun said on Twitter.
Nasrallah also said on Tuesday that the expanding US global campaign of sanctions against Iran and its allies, including Hezbollah, was a form of “aggression.”
Washington last month hit the Lebanese Jammal Trust Bank and its subsidiaries with sanctions, accusing it of ties with Hezbollah, which the bank denies.
This is part of a US push in recent years to choke off Hezbollah’s funding, alongside a slew of steps against Tehran since US President Donald Trump withdrew last year from a 2015 international nuclear deal with Iran.
Nasrallah said that when sanctions begin to hurt the Lebanese people, Hezbollah “should behave in a different way,” without elaborating.
“To extend this aggression to affect other people — to banks not owned by Hezbollah and which have no connection with them and to wealthy people or traders just because of their religious affiliation or political viewpoints — this needs a different approach,” he said. 

Afghan, US forces kill Taliban governors, fighters

Updated 16 September 2019

Afghan, US forces kill Taliban governors, fighters

  • Joint operations planned to prevent attacks ahead of polls

KABUL: Afghan forces backed by US forces killed two senior Taliban leaders and at least 38 fighters of the hard-line insurgent group in joint airstrikes conducted in northern and western regions of Afghanistan, officials said on Sunday.

The operations, launched on Saturday night, were aimed at foiling attacks planned by the Taliban on Afghan forces, said a senior security official in capital Kabul, adding that clashes have escalated following the collapse of diplomatic talks between the US and the Taliban.

The Defense Ministry in a statement said that the Taliban’s designate governor for northern Samangan province, Mawlavi Nooruddin, was killed along with four fighters in an airstrike in Dara-e-Soof Payeen district.

But the Taliban denied the governor had been killed.

“He (Nooruddin) is alive,” said Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman said in a statement.


Taliban deny the governor of Samangan province had been killed.

Last week, insurgents killed four Afghan special force members in a car bomb blast.

Afghan officials say around 100,000 members of the country’s security forces are ready for polling day.

In a separate incident, Mullah Sayed Azim, a Taliban designate governor for Anar Dara district in western Farah was killed in a joint Afghan and foreign force raid.

“Sayed Azim was killed along with 34 other insurgents in Anar Dara,” said Mohibullah Mohib, a spokesman for Farah provincial police.

Senior security officials in Kabul said several joint operations will be launched against Taliban and Daesh fighters to prevent attacks on Afghan forces and civilians ahead of the presidential polls on Sept. 28.

Fighting picked up in several parts of Afghanistan last week after US President Donald Trump’s abrupt cancelation of talks with the Taliban aimed at withdrawing US troops and opening the way to end to 18 year-long war in Afghanistan. 


Troops for polling day

Afghan officials say around 100,000 members of the country’s security forces are ready for polling day. Nasrat Rahimi, spokesman for the Interior Ministry said on Sunday that 72,000 security personnel will be on duty around the 4,942 polling centers across Afghanistan while nearly 30,000 additional troops will serve as reserve units.

Defense Ministry spokesman Rohullah Ahmadzai said security forces have recently taken back eight districts from the Taliban and that operations are underway to secure around 20 others.