by Daniel Siryoti
Terrorist organization denies report of immediate retaliation after Israeli drones reportedly crash in Beirut. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah expected to reveal next steps later today.
|Supporters listen to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah's speech | Archives: EPA/Nabil Mounzer|
Hezbollah will retaliate to an alleged overnight Israeli provocation in Beirut by Sunday afternoon, sources close to the Shiite terrorist group told the Lebanese media hours after the incident, but the threat was later walked back by Hezbollah.
Two Israeli drones reportedly crashed in a Hezbollah stronghold in the Lebanese capital overnight, a spokesman for the organization said on Sunday, saying the first fell on the roof of a building housing Hezbollah's media office while the second landed in a plot behind it.
He said a second drone, which was supposedly sent by Israel to search for the first one less than 45 minutes later, exploded in the air and crashed in an empty plot nearby, causing damage to nearby buildings. He said the second drone was likely armed judging by the damage that it caused.
Residents said they heard a loud blast that triggered a nighttime fire.
"We did not shoot down or explode any of the drones," Afif told The Associated Press.
He said that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah was to give the official and "appropriate" response in a previously-scheduled televised appearance later on Sunday.
There was no immediate Israeli comment on Hezbollah's remarks.
The incident in Beirut comes amid heightened tensions between neighboring Israel and Iran, which backs Hezbollah, and shortly after Israeli warplanes thwarted an attack by Iran's Quds Force from Syria.
“The strike targeted Iran's Quds Force operatives and Shiite militias that had been preparing advance attacks targeting sites in Israel from within Syria,” IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus said on the Israeli preemptive attack.
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri described the crash of the two drones as a violation and "aggression" against Lebanese sovereignty. He said that the developments overnight constitute a threat to regional stability and an attempt to push the situation toward an escalation.
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