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Hezbollah downs Israel drone in south Lebanon

This handout picture provided by Hezbollah’s media office on June 26, 2023, shows an Israeli drone that was intercepted in southern Lebanon near the border. — Hezbollah’s Media Office/AFP 

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement said on Monday that it had downed an Israeli drone that had flown into the country’s southern airspace near the border.

The group “shot down an Israeli drone that entered Lebanese airspace… near Zibqin in the south”, Hezbollah said in a statement.

It published images of the purported drone, which it said was equipped with “two high-quality cameras” and appeared largely intact.

The unmanned craft had travelled around seven kilometres into Lebanese territory, Hezbollah added.

The Israeli army told AFP that one of its drones “fell in Lebanese territory during routine activity. There is no risk of a breach of information.”

Israeli warplanes and drones regularly violate Lebanon’s airspace, while the powerful movement for years has been sending drones towards Israel.

Both sides claim to have shot down the other’s unmanned aircraft in the past.

In April, Israel’s military said soldiers had shot down a drone that entered its airspace from Lebanon, a day after a barrage of rockets was fired into Israel.

The two neighbours are still technically at war, and peacekeepers from the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon patrol the border between the two countries.

Set up in 1978, UNIFIL was beefed up after a devastating war in 2006 between Israel and Hezbollah.

The group is the only side not to have disarmed following Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war, and it is also a powerful player in Lebanese politics.

Last month, Hezbollah simulated cross-border raids into Israel in a show of its military might, using live ammunition and an attack drone.

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