Israel reinforces Lebanon border after Hezbollah threats
JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli military said Thursday it was reinforcing the country’s northern border with infantry troops “in accordance with the situational assessment.”
The announcement comes after a strike earlier this week killed a fighter from the militant Hezbollah group near Damascus International Airport. The airstrike, which also killed four other foreign fighters, was widely attributed to Israel.
Iran-backed Hezbollah has vowed in the past to retaliate for any fighter that Israel kills in Syria. The group fired a barrage of anti-tank missiles into Israel on Sept. 1 last year after two of its fighters were killed in an Israeli airstrike near Damascus days earlier.
That prompted a reprisal of heavy Israeli artillery fire in a rare burst of fighting between the bitter enemies. Hezbollah and Israel fought a 34-day war in 2006 that ended in a draw.
Israel did not comment on this week’s strike and generally refrains from discussing its activities in neighboring Syria. But it is believed to have carried out hundreds of strikes against pro-Iranian forces during the nearly decade-long civil war.
Tehran has sent thousands of Iran-backed fighters in the past years to fight alongside Syrian government forces.
Israel views Iran as a regional menace and has vowed to prevent any permanent Iranian military buildup in Syria, particularly near its frontier.