Senior Hezbollah commander killed in Israeli attack

Hezbollah said one of its senior commanders was killed in an Israeli airstrike in southern Lebanon, prompting the Iran-backed militant group to retaliate with a barrage of rockets against Israel.

Mohammed Nima Nasser is the latest Hezbollah leader to be targeted by Israel in nearly nine months of cross-border violence that has raised fears of all-out war.

Hezbollah said it had fired 100 rockets and missiles at Israeli positions “in retaliation for the assassination.” The Israeli military said numerous projectiles fell in the open, sparking fires but no injuries were reported.

The army accused Nasser of commanding Hezbollah’s Aziz Force, responsible for firing rockets from southwestern Lebanon, and of orchestrating “numerous terrorist attacks.”

He was also described as a “partner” with another unit commander, Taleb Sami Abdullah, whose killing prompted Hezbollah to fire more than 200 rockets and missiles into northern Israel in a single day last month.

There have been active diplomatic efforts to ease tensions since then, with the United Nations and the United States warning that a war that could also involve Iran and other allies could have catastrophic consequences.

Since the day after the war in Gaza began between Israel and Hamas on October 7, there have been almost daily gun battles on the Israeli-Lebanese border.

Hezbollah says it is acting in support of Palestinian groups that are also backed by Iran. Both groups are banned as terrorist organisations by Israel, Britain and other countries.

Israeli officials have repeatedly warned in recent weeks that they would use military force to restore security along the northern border if diplomatic talks fail.

“We are hitting Hezbollah hard every day and we stand fully prepared to take any action necessary in Lebanon or reach an agreement from a position of strength,” Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Wednesday. “We want an agreement, but if reality dictates we know how to fight.”

Hezbollah, which is heavily armed and has long been considered a far superior enemy to Hamas, says it does not want all-out war with Israel and that the ceasefire in Gaza will be observed in Lebanon.

“Israel can decide what it wants: a limited war, a total war or a partial war,” Naim Qassem, the group’s deputy leader, said in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday, “but Israel should be prepared that our response and resistance will not fall within the limits and rules of engagement that Israel has set.”

So far, more than 400 people have been reported dead in Lebanon, the majority of them Hezbollah fighters, and 25 in Israel, most of them soldiers.

Tens of thousands of people from communities on both sides of the border have also been forced to flee.


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