Lebanese security forces said on Monday they had smashed a Daesh terrorist cell operating near the border with Syria, Arab News reports. Eighteen Lebanese and Syrian nationals were arrested and a large quantity of weapons and ammunition was seized in an intelligence operation in the border town of Arsal, the Armed Forces Command said.
“Those arrested belong to cells linked to the terrorist organization Daesh and had been planning to carry out terrorist acts. The arrests came in field operations that took place over the past two weeks in the border town of Arsal in the north,” a military spokesman said.
The individuals arrested confessed to belonging to the Daesh jihadist group and supporting it, and several weapons were also confiscated, it said. Juroud Arsal, a barren area in the mountains between Syria and Lebanon, was previously a base of operations for insurgents fighting in the Syrian civil war, including militants from Daesh and the group formerly known as the Nusra Front.
Meanwhile the Iran-backed Hezbollah group said it had shot down an Israeli drone after it flew over the UN-demarcated Blue Line border in southern Lebanon. The group released images of a four-armed drone equipped with what appeared to be a camera. Hezbollah, said on Monday that it has destroyed an unmanned aerial vehicle belonging to the Israeli armed forces in the country’s southern area of Blida.
“This morning, the Islamic Resistance [Hezbollah’s military wing] hit a drone belonging to hostile Israel. It violated Lebanon’s airspace in the vicinity of the Blida settlement in the country’s south,” Hezbollah said in a statement.
Earlier in the day, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) reported that an Israeli drone was shot down above southern Lebanon, but claimed it had crashed.
“A short time ago, an IDF drone fell on the Lebanese territory during the army’s military operation on the Lebanese border. There is no risk of intelligence leakage,” the IDF said on Twitter.
In a statement, the army’s spokesman Avichay Adraee said: “A short while ago, an Israeli army drone fell inside Lebanese territory.”
“The drone crashed during an operational activity on the border with Lebanon,” he said.
Hezbollah said in September 2019 that it would shoot down any Israeli drones flying over Lebanon after an incident the previous month when two drones packed with explosives targeted Hezbollah’s stronghold in south Beirut. In August 2020, the group shot down and seized an Israeli drone that flew into Lebanese airspace. Israel again said at the time that the drone had “fallen.” Last week the Israeli army shot down an unmanned aircraft it said had entered its airspace from southern Lebanon.