Hezbollah fires retaliatory rockets after Israel appears to strike in Syria

An apparent Israeli drone strike in Syria on Tuesday prompted the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah to respond with rocket fire into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, the group said, an attack that killed two people as fears continued to grow over the threat of a full-scale war.

Hezbollah said in a statement that it targeted an Israeli military base in direct response to what it called an “assassination” in Syria earlier in the day. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war watchdog, reported Tuesday that two Hezbollah members had been killed in an Israeli drone strike on their vehicle near the Lebanese border. The driver of the vehicle, a Syrian national, was also wounded in the attack, the war watchdog said.

Neither Hezbollah nor the Israeli military have said whether anyone was killed in the attack, and Israel had not claimed responsibility by Tuesday evening. But the Israeli military has stepped up air strikes in Syria since the war in Gaza began last year, often targeting Hezbollah and other Iranian-backed groups that have entrenched themselves across the country.

Israeli police said a man and a woman were killed in subsequent Hezbollah rocket fire and that firefighters were working to put out several fires in the area. It was not immediately clear whether the victims were civilians or active-duty soldiers.

The Israeli military said a total of 40 projectiles were fired across the Lebanese border into the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau bordering Syria that Israel annexed nearly 60 years ago.

The latest tit-for-tat clashes between Hezbollah and Israel have come amid intensifying efforts by the Biden administration to contain the conflict and prevent an all-out war. However, multiple rounds of shuttle diplomacy have failed to quell rising tensions, with Hezbollah repeatedly stressing that violence will continue along Israel’s northern border as long as the war in Gaza persists.

Hezbollah has begun shooting into northern Israel in solidarity with the Hamas-led attack on October 7 that sparked the war in Gaza. More than 150,000 Israelis and Lebanese have so far been forced to flee their homes along the border, with no indication of when they will be able to return.

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