JERUSALEM, Israel – An Israeli drone crashed inside Lebanese territory in the early morning hours of Monday morning.
The Iranian-backed Hezbollah terror group said in a statement that it shot down the aircraft with "appropriate weapons" after it crossed the Lebanese border towards the southern town of Ramieh. However, the Israel Defense Forces denies Hezbollah's claims, saying the drone fell while performing reconnaissance operations in the area.
The aircraft is now in the hands of Hezbollah fighters, the group said. The Israeli military is confident that intelligence cannot be extracted from the drone.
The incident occurred more than a week after Hezbollah exchanged fire with Israeli forces in retaliation for Israeli strikes in Syria that killed two terrorists who were planning a drone attack on Israel. Hezbollah said the confrontation was also in response to an Israeli drone attack in Beirut.
Hours before the Israeli drone fell in Lebanon on Monday, at least 18 people were killed overnight in airstrikes on Iranian-backed forces in Syria, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
"Warplanes whose identity is not known so far targeted vehicles and positions of the Iranian forces and militias loyal to them," the group said, adding that at least three explosions were heard.
Arab media confirmed the report, saying the attacks targeted sites in Al Bukamal in eastern Syria near the Iraqi border.
Last week, Fox News reported that Iran had established its largest military base in Syria to date near Al Bukamal.
Citing western sources and satellite images, Fox reports that the classified project called the "Imam Ali compound" was approved by the highest levels of government in Tehran.
Analysts at Image Sat International (ISI) say the base, which is expected to be completed in a matter of months, will house thousands of troops and precision-guided missiles ready for aim at the Jewish state.
The IDF did not comment on reports regarding the overnight strike in Syria. However, the military reported that a number of rockets were launched towards Israel from Syria Monday morning, all of which failed to hit Israeli territory.
“The rockets were launched from the outskirts of Damascus by Shiite militia operatives operating under the Iranian Quds Force,” the military said in a statement.