Hezbollah has attacked positions held by the Al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front in Arsal, a Sunni Muslim town near the Syrian border in northeast Lebanon, the Iranian news agency Fars reported Sunday.
According to the report, at least 23 militants were killed using attack drones, including Abu Laith al-Shami, a Lebanese national and leading member of the organization, and dozens were wounded. In addition, ground forces reportedly arrested a number of rebels.
The incident marks the first time Hezbollah has used unmanned drones to target terrorist targets, Fars reported; previously, the Shi'ite group limited drone use to reconnaissance missions. FARS added that the operation in Arsal was in retaliation to a Nusra Front attack on a Hezbollah checkpoint in northeast Lebanon on Saturday that killed three.
Haaretz's military correspondent Gili Cohen adds that the Israeli defense establishment estimates that Hezbollah has multiple attack drones in its arsenal, saying the number of these UAVs at its disposal is in the double digits.
An Israel Air Force officer who spoke with reporters on the subject last month said that Iran is involved in transferring UAV technology and operational know-how to Hezbollah, to Israel's north, and Hamas, to Israel's south, whether through Syria or directly.
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