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Hizbollah says Israeli strike kills senior commander

By AFP - Jul 04,2024 - Last updated at Jul 04,2024

A photo taken from the southern Lebanese area of Marjayoun on Wednesday, shows smoke billowing over hills in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights after rockets were fired from the Lebanese side of the border (AFP photo)

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Hizbollah said an Israeli air strike killed a senior commander in south Lebanon on Wednesday, the Iran-backed movement's second such loss in recent weeks.

Hizbollah has traded near daily cross-border fire with the Israeli army since its Palestinian ally Hamas attacked southern Israel on October 7, triggering war in Gaza, but an uptick in bellicose rhetoric from both sides in recent weeks has raised fears of all-out war.

"A Hizbollah commander responsible for one of three sectors in south Lebanon was killed" in an "Israeli strike on a car in Tyre", a source told AFP, requesting anonymity as they were not authorised to speak to the media.

Hizbollah said that "commander Mohammed Naameh Nasser", also known as "Hajj Abu Naameh" had been killed, and also announced the death of a second fighter.

Another source close to the group, also requesting anonymity, confirmed Nasser was killed in the strike in Tyre, and said he was the third senior Hizbollah commander to be killed in almost nine months of hostilities.

Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency (NNA) said “an enemy drone targeted a car” in Tyre, a coastal city around 20 kilometres from the border.

The first source said Nasser had the same rank as Taleb Abdallah, a commander killed in an Israeli strike last month who was described by a Lebanese military source at the time as the “most important” Hizbollah commander killed to date.

That strike prompted Hizbollah to intensify its attacks on Israeli targets, firing barrages of rockets across the border in the days that followed.

In January, a security source said an Israeli strike killed Wissam Hassan Tawil, another top commander from the group.

‘Prevent a conflagration’

Hizbollah announced a series of attacks on Israeli troops and positions near the border on Wednesday, while the NNA reported Israeli attacks in other parts of south Lebanon.

The commander’s death followed a relative easing of cross-border exchanges over the past week, after threats on both sides had intensified.

Fears the violence, so far largely restricted to the border area, could turn into all-out war have sparked a flurry of diplomatic efforts to lower tensions.

On Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron urged Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to prevent a “conflagration” between Israel and Hizbollah.

US envoy Amos Hochstein, who has made repeated visits to Lebanon in recent months, was due in Paris on Wednesday where he was due to meet with Macron’s Lebanon envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian.

Iran warned on Saturday that “all resistance fronts” would confront Israel if it attacks Lebanon.

Last week, Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant said his country did not want war in Lebanon but could send it back to the “Stone Age” if diplomacy failed.

Hizbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah warned in June that “no place” in Israel would be spared in the event of all-out war, and threatened nearby Cyprus if it opened its airports to Israel.

The cross-border violence has killed at least 495 people in Lebanon, most of them fighters but also including 95 civilians, according to an AFP tally.

Israeli authorities say at least 15 soldiers and 11 civilians have been killed.

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