BEIRUT (AP) — The leader of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group said Saturday his fighters have introduced new weapons, including a missile with a heavy warhead in the ongoing fighting along the Lebanon-Israel border, adding that they will keep using the tense frontier to pressure Israel.
Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah also blasted the United States over the Israel-Hamas war, saying it is the only country that can stop Israel’s wide offensive on the Gaza Strip but doesn’t do so. He said attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria, that Washington says have reached more than 40 rockets and suicide drone attacks, will continue until the war in Gaza comes to an end.
Nasrallah’s comments came as the situation along Lebanon’s southern border continues to escalate. Hezbollah on Friday attacked northern Israel with three suicide drones after an Israeli strike in central Syria killed seven Hezbollah fighters.
Nasrallah did not claim responsibility for a suicide drone attack that hit the Israeli Red Sea town of Eilat on Thursday but called it “a great achievement.”
Hezbollah and Israeli troops have been exchanging fire along the Lebanon-Israel border since Oct. 8, a day after Hamas' deadly assault in southern Israel that left at least 1,200 Israeli civilians and troops dead and more than 200 taken hostages.
Hezbollah officials say that by attacking Israeli posts along the border, the Iran-backed group is keeping three Israeli army divisions busy at a time when Israeli troops are pushing into the Gaza Strip where more than 11,000 people have been killed over the past five weeks, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry.
“The side that can stop this aggression, is the side that is managing this aggression. It is America,” Nasrallah said, referring to the United States, a main supporter of Israel.
Nasrallah said that the fighting along Lebanon’s southern border has witnessed changes in recent days, including the weapons used and the depth of the strikes inside Israel. He said that Hezbollah has been sending unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance drones into northern Israel some of which were shot down while others returned to base with information.
On Saturday Hezbollah said its fighters attacked at least three Israeli posts as well as an infantry unit on the Israeli side of the border, claiming to have scored direct hits.
An Israeli drone strike killed a fighter and wounded two others who are members of the Shiite Muslim Amal group of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, according to a statement released by the group that is allied with Hezbollah. Ali Daoud became the first Amal fighter to be killed in action since the fighting began, while Hezbollah has lost nearly 70 fighters during the past five weeks.
Nasrallah said the group on Saturday used one Burkan rocket against an Israeli military post along the border. He said the rocket can carry a warhead the weights between 300 kilograms (661 pounds) and 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds).
“You can imagine (what happens) when half a ton of explosives fall on Israeli posts,” Nasrallah said.
The Israeli military said its aircraft struck a series of Hezbollah targets in response to attacks from Lebanon. The military said the targets include infrastructure, military posts, weapons depots and intelligence infrastructure.
On Friday, Israel’s air force attacked a truck in the coastal town of Zahrani, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of the border, the deepest strike so far since the latest round of fighting began, according to Lebanese media outlets.
Speaking about the Muslim and Arab summit hosted by Saudi Arabia with the aim of devising their own cohesive strategy on Gaza, Nasrallah said the leaders of 57 countries “should stand united and scream in the face of Americans and ask them to stop this aggression, war and crimes” in Gaza.
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