BEIRUT: Lebanon informed the UN Secretariat on Thursday that Israel had violated Lebanese sovereignty by using Lebanese airspace to target Syrian territory on Thursday morning.
Lebanon claims that Israel violated its airspace while launching attacks on military sites in Al-Qusayr in Syria’s Homs governorate believed to belong to Hezbollah.
It says that a missile from an Israeli plane landed in an area of forest near the town of Lehfed, 56 kilometers north of Beirut in the Byblos region.
The people of Lehfed awoke to the sound of a huge explosion that shook buildings and shattered windows.
A missile had landed within hundreds of meters from populated areas, blasting a hole in the ground about 20 meters deep, according to the townspeople.
Initial information suggested that the missile weighed about 250 kg. No casualties were reported.
Residents of the town of Majdal and neighboring villages in the Koura district also heard the explosion and said they saw flashes of light in the area, which they believed to be the result of Syrian air defenses intercepting the Israeli attack. People in Akkar, a northern region that borders Syria, particularly those in Wadi Khaled and Akroum, said they heard missiles being fired at Shayrat Airbase in Homs.
The Syrian News Agency (SANA) reported: “The air defenses of the Syrian army intercepted the missiles and shot down most of them, causing material damage.”
Former Byblos lawmaker Fares Souaid commented on the incident in a tweet, saying: “The source of the downed missile was the conflict in the region and against the region. Today, it was Lehfed; where will it be next?”
Hezbollah took control of Al-Qusayr in June 2013 during its intervention in the war in Syria, and it is now the site of security headquarters and training centers for the Iran-affiliated militia. Al-Dabaa Airbase, northeast of Al-Qusayr, has been turned into an air supply base for Hezbollah camps.
In 2016, Hezbollah demonstrated its control over the area by holding a huge military parade.
According to several Syrian refugees in camps in Arsal, a Lebanese town on the border with Syria, residents of Al-Qusayr who opposed the Syrian regime fled to Arsal and adjacent rural areas after Hezbollah took control.
They also said that Hezbollah has ammunition and weapons depots west of Al-Qusayr city.
Since February 2014, no refugees have been allowed to return to the city of Al-Qusayr. In September 2019, Hezbollah urged residents to return, but specified a number of conditions, most notably that they must “be loyal to Hezbollah.”
Also on Thursday, the Israeli army arrested two people who crossed Lebanon’s southern border into the Galilee region.
Candice Ardell, deputy director of the media office at the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), told Lebanon’s National News Agency: “UNIFIL is aware of reports that the Israeli authorities arrested two people who had crossed from Lebanon to Israel early this morning. We are in contact with the (concerned) parties and are following up on the incident.”