BEIRUT – Unknown warplanes targeted overnight an arms depot and posts of Iranian-backed militias in eastern Syria, near the Iraqi border, killing at least 18 fighters, Syrian opposition activists said Monday. The strikes come amid rising tensions in the Middle East and the crisis between Iran and the U.S. in the wake of the collapsing nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers. An official with an Iranian-backed militia in Iraq blamed Israel for the airstrikes that hit in the eastern Syrian town of Boukamal. There was no immediate comment from Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last month that Iran has no immunity anywhere and that the Israeli military "will act -- and currently are acting -- against them."
JERUSALEM – The long shadow war between Israel and Iran has burst into the open in recent days, with Israel allegedly striking Iran-linked targets as far away as Iraq and crash-landing two drones in Hezbollah-dominated southern Beirut. These incidents, along with an air raid in Syria that Israel says thwarted an imminent Iranian drone attack, have raised tensions at a particularly fraught time. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is looking to project strength three weeks before national elections, while Iran has taken a series of provocative actions in recent months aimed at pressuring European nations to provide relief from crippling U.S. sanctions. Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Iran-backed Hezbollah, vowed to retaliate after a drone crashed on the militant group's Beirut media office and another exploded midair early Sunday. Israeli forces along the border with Lebanon are on high alert, raising fears of a repeat of the 2006 war.
In this picture released by the Iranian state-run IRIB News Agency on Monday, June 19, 2017, a missile is fired from city of Kermanshah in western Iran targeting the Islamic State group in Syria. Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard, a paramilitary force in charge of the country's missile program, said it launched six Zolfaghar ballistic missiles from the western provinces of Kermanshah and Kurdistan. In this picture released by the Iranian state-run IRIB News Agency on Monday, June 19, 2017, a missile is fired from city of Kermanshah in western Iran targeting the Islamic State group in Syria. In this picture released by the Iranian state-run IRIB News Agency on Monday, June 19, 2017, a missile is fired from city of Kermanshah in western Iran targeting the Islamic State group in Syria.
Lebanese militant group Hezbollah announced Tuesday it had captured a fallen Israeli spy drone near the country's southern border with Israel, escalating tensions between the Iran-backed Shiite Muslim organization and its adversaries in Tel Aviv. Israeli military officials confirmed that a Skylark unmanned aerial vehicle or UAV had crashed Monday in Lebanese territory. The reconnaissance device landed near the town of Alma Shaab, according to Hezbollah-affiliated news outlet Al Manar. The lightweight drone is manufactured by Israeli defense manufacturer Elbeit Systems and costs around $50,000 per unit. The Lebanese Army reportedly attempted to recover the aircraft but was unable to do so due to harsh terrain.
JERUSALEM – The Israeli military has confirmed that a drone crashed in Syria earlier this week in unclear circumstances. In a statement, the military said the "Skylark" went down on Sunday and that the incident was being investigated. Tuesday's statement said there is "no risk of a breach of information." Hezbollah's media arm published photographs of what it said was a drone it had shot down after infiltrating Syrian airspace in the Golan Heights. Although Israel is not actively fighting in the Syrian civil war, it keeps close tabs on its enemies Iran and Lebanon's Iranian-backed Hezbollah militant group, which are both backing Syrian government forces.