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Hezbollah chief says response to Israeli drone attack has been ‘decided’

Nasrallah vowed a response to the Israeli drone attack in a televised speech [Twitter]

Date of publication: 31 August, 2019

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The head of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, says that his group has 'decided' a response to an Israeli drone attack on Hezbollah’s stronghold in Beirut last Sunday.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said on Saturday that his Iran-backed Lebanese movement's response to a recent Israeli drone attack on the group's Beirut stronghold had been "decided".

"The need for a response is decided," he said during a televised speech ahead of the Shia Muslim religious holiday of Ashura, adding it was about "establishing the rules of engagement and... the logic of protection for the country".

Israel "must pay a price", he said.

The threat comes as tensions soar between Lebanon and Israel after the Israeli attack on southern Beirut last Sunday.

The pre-dawn attack involved two drones - one exploded and caused damage to a Hezbollah-run media centre and another crashed without detonating due to technical failure.

Israel has not claimed responsibility for the incident.

Sunday's attack in Lebanon came just hours after Israel launched strikes in neighbouring Syria to prevent what it said was an impending Iranian drone attack.

Hezbollah said two of its fighters were killed in those strikes.

In his Saturday speech, Nasrallah vowed to retaliate "at all costs" and target Israeli drones, which often operate in Lebanese airspace.

In 2015 and 2016, Hezbollah targeted Israeli military vehicles in the disputed Shebaa Farms area along the Lebanon-Israel ceasefire line in revenge for Israeli strikes on its fighters in Syria.

In a rare incident on Wednesday, the Lebanese army opened fire on Israeli drones that had violated Lebanon's southern airspace, forcing the aircraft to return back across the border.

Israel and Hezbollah have fought several wars, the last of which was a 33-day conflict in 2006, which killed 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

Iran-backed Hezbollah is considered a terrorist organisation by Israel and the United States, but it is a major political actor in Lebanon and a key backer of the regime of Bashar al-Assad in neighbouring Syria.

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