August 28, 2019 / 5:16 PM / 21 days ago

Lebanese army fires at Israeli drones near border

BEIRUT (Reuters) - The Lebanese army opened fire at two of three Israeli drones that breached Lebanese airspace on Wednesday evening in the south of the country near the Israeli border, and all three returned to Israeli airspace, the army said.

Lebanese army soldiers stand near a poster of Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah in Adaisseh village near the Lebanese-Israeli border, Lebanon August 28, 2019. REUTERS/Aziz Taher

Israeli aircraft regularly enter Lebanese airspace, but this is a rare case of the army targeting one. Beirut has repeatedly complained to the United Nations about Israel, which Lebanon considers an enemy country, breaching its airspace.

The Israeli military said shots were heard from Lebanese territory towards an airspace in which Israeli Defence Force (IDF) drones were operating.

“The drones completed their mission and no IDF damage was reported,” the statement said.

A security source told Reuters that troops fired shots from M16 assault rifles. The Lebanese army does not possess air defense systems.

The first drone entered Lebanese airspace at 19:35 over the border village of Adaisseh and returned to Israel after shots were fired, the Lebanese army statement said.

A second drone returned to Israel without being fired at after entering over Kfar Kila, also a border village. The army then fired at a third one which also returned back to Israel, it said.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun had said on Monday his country had a right to defend itself after two Israeli drones crashed in Beirut southern suburbs, dominated by the Iran-backed Hezbollah group, on Sunday.

Earlier on Monday, Israeli strikes had hit a military position belonging to an Iran-backed Palestinian faction in Lebanon’s Bekaa valley near the Syrian border.

A witness at the border said the situation was calm following the incident.

Reporting by Lisa Barrington and Reuters team in Lebanon; Additional reporting by Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem and Nayera Abdallah in Cairo; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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