World Bulletin / News Desk
Lebanese Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah acknowledged on Thursday sending a drone aircraft that was shot down last weekend after flying some 25 miles (55 km) into Israel.
Nasrallah said in a televised speech that the drone's parts were manufactured in Iran and it was assembled by members of the movement in Lebanon.
"The resistance in Lebanon sent a sophisticated reconnaissance aircraft from Lebanon...It penetrated the enemy's iron procedures and entered occupied southern Palestine," Nasrallah said.
Seeking to underline that Hezbollah was capable of reaching targets well inside Israel, Nasrallah said the drone "flew over sensitive installations inside southern Palestine and was shot down in an area near the Dimona nuclear reactor".
Iran said the incursion exposed the weakness of Israeli air defence, indicating that Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile defence system "does not work and lacks the necessary capacity". The Iron Dome system, jointly funded with Washington, is designed to down short-range guerrilla rockets, not slow-flying aircraft.
Israel attacked Lebanon in 2006 during a 34-day war in which 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers, were killed.
Opponents have accused Hezbollah of sending fighters to help the Syrian leader quell the insurgency.
Nasrallah denied such accusations.
"We have not fought alongside the regime until now. The regime did not ask us to do so and also who says that doing so is in Lebanon's interest?"
Earlier this month Hezbollah buried two of its fighters who local sources said were killed near a Syrian border town. Hezbollah acknowledged the death of only one fighter and said he was a commander who "died while performing his jihad duties". It did not elaborate.
Nasrallah said on Thursday that he was killed in a roadside bomb in a town near the Syrian border.
Nasrallah explained that there are 23 Syrian border towns and 12 farms that are inhabited by Lebanese residents of various religious beliefs, adding that around 30,000 Lebanese residents live in these towns.
“They maintained their ties with Lebanon and they vote in Lebanon. Some of the men of these Lebanese families have been members of Lebanese parties since decades,” he added.
“A large number of Lebanese residents of these border towns belong to Hizbullah and they have been fighting in the party's ranks since 30 years. We did not tell them how to deal with the incidents. We told them make your own choice and they chose to stay in their homes. Armed groups attacked them and carried out killings, kidnappings and even rapes,” Nasrallah clarified.
Turning to the issue of the recent meida reports about the alleged death of a Hizbullah commander and several fighters in Syria, Nasrallah denied the claims, clarifying that the Hizbullah fighters were killed while defending Lebanese-inhabited border towns inside Syria.
“During the first days of the Syrian crisis, some Arab satellite networks claimed that Hizbullah had sent 3,000 fighters to Syria and we said that the reports were false and they are still false,” said Nasrallah.