Senior Hezbollah Official Killed in Israeli Strike in Syria, Reports Say

Media outlets aligned with the Syrian opposition say man was aiding Iran's efforts to secure a foothold on the Golan Heights, but state says he was a 'civilian'

Jack Khoury
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The border fence with Syria and the province of Quneitra as seen from the Golan Heights on February 24, 2020.
The border fence with Syria and the province of Quneitra as seen from the Golan Heights on February 24, 2020.Credit: AFP
Jack Khoury

A senior Hezbollah official in Syria was killed on Thursday in an Israeli drone strike, Syrian opposition media report.

Syrian state TV reported that an Israeli drone fired a missile at a car in southern Syria, killing one person, who it says was a "civilian." Some other media outlets aligned with the Assad regime said he was a local policeman.

The man is said to have been targeted while driving near the village of Hader, near Quneitra, in the Syrian Golan Heights.

Local media reports have identified the man as Imad Tawil, a senior Hezbollah official aiding Iran's efforts to secure a foothold on the Golan Heights.

There was no immediate comment from Israel about the drone attack.

Israel has repeatedly struck Iran-linked targets in Syria in recent years and has warned against any permanent Iranian presence on the frontier.

A Syrian military statement reported this week an Israeli attack near Damascus International Airport and said its air defenses confronted Israeli rockets coming from the direction of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. It said the defenders intercepted or shot down most of them.

In a rare acknowledgment of operations in neighboring Syria, Israel said late Sunday that its warplanes struck Islamic Jihad targets south of Damascus, in addition to sites in the Gaza Strip.

The strike followed a barrage of over 20 rockets fired into southern Israel by the group's militants in response to the death of one of its operatives, who was shot by Israeli forces after they said he was laying an explosive charge near the Gaza border fence. Hostilities between Israel and the Palestinian faction continued until a cease-fire was reached on Tuesday.

Two weeks ago, SANA reported that Syrian air defense systems were activated following a strike near the Damascus Airport that came from the Golan Heights. The Al-Hadath news channel reported that seven militants were killed in the attack targeting Iranian-backed militias, citing the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

In August, SANA reported that an Israeli missile struck western Quneitra, causing no injuries but some material damage.  No details were given about the intended target of the attack. Saudi news channel Al Arabiya Al Hadath reported that the strike was reported after Hezbollah militants were identified in the area, but did not cite any Syrian sources.  

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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