Is Washington behind Israeli drone attacks on Lebanon?

Three Israeli airstrikes on a Palestinian base in eastern Lebanon near the border with Syria on 26 August were “equal to a declaration of war,” Lebanese President Michel Aoun (right), said this week.

The three drone attacks a few minutes apart  hit a base near Qusaya in the Bekaa Valley of a Syrian-backed group known as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, an ally of Hezbollah. The strikes came a day after an Israeli drone crashed in a Hezbollah stronghold in southern Beirut, and another exploded and crashed nearby. The attacks violated the UN Security Council resolution that ended the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, Aoun told the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Jan Kubis.

“What happened is equal to a declaration of war and gives us the right to defend our sovereignty, independence, and the safety of our land,” Aoun said. “We are people who seek peace and not war, and we don’t accept that anyone threatens us through any means.”

Israel has been using these drones lately in Syria and Iraq to kill Iranians. These drones do not usually explode in the skies. The Israeli technology does not work this way.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the UN took note of Aoun’s statements and repeated its appeal to stop violations of the Security Council resolution and implement all its provisions. “The UN calls on the parties to exercise maximum restraint, both in action and in rhetoric,” Dujarric said.

Lebanese diplomatic expert Riyad Tabarah said the drone incidents in the southern Beirut suburbs were mysterious. “This kind of drone is usually used to target people and not places,” he told Arab News.

“Israel has been using these drones lately in Syria and Iraq to kill Iranians. These drones do not usually explode in the skies. The Israeli technology does not work this way. Plus, there is a difference between the places where the first drone crashed and the second exploded.

“Israeli media said that, according to the images on Lebanese TV channels, the drone that was downed was Iranian, and not made in Israel.”

He said that increasing Israeli pressure against Hezbollah and Iran came from the US, which could not exert this pressure directly. Israel was acting on behalf of the US, to force Iran to come to the negotiating table, he said.

Meanwhile, Israeli drones continue to fly over the Bekaa Valley and also southern Lebanon, where the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) patrols the border with Israel. “Our mission is limited to the south of Lebanon,” UNIFIL spokesman Andrea Teneneti told Arab News.  “The Lebanese authorities are handling this part with the relevant authorities. “We are issuing reports regarding the air violations and focusing on preventing any tensions in the south. Our mission is confined to the south … and the situation there is stable and calm, just as it was before.”

This edited article was first published by Arab News

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