Israel uncovers Hezbollah unit led by notorious commander

Israel uncovers Hezbollah unit led by notorious commander

In statements based on what it described as previously classified intelligence, the Israeli military said Hezbollah had mobilized "a few operatives, Syrians" as part of a new "terror network on the Syrian Golan Heights aimed at striking Israel".

Israel traditionally views the Hezbollah Shia movement as terrorist organisation and is concerned about its alleged presence in neighbouring Syria.

According to Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the sophisticated and carefully planned project is not yet operational, but the Hezbollah recruits, who receive monthly wages from the Shiite militant group, have engaged in reconnaissance missions and are equipped with anti-tank missiles, explosives, machine guns and others arms.

Israel said the new unit had been established without Assad's knowledge, and some Israeli media reported that part of the aim in publicising it was in hopes Syria and Russian Federation would move to stop it.

Israel on Wednesday accused a suspected Lebanese Hezbollah operative who was previously held in Iraq over the killing of five USA military personnel of now setting up a Syrian guerrilla network for cross-border attacks on Israeli targets. However, the unit is run by Lebanese operatives and there is no sign of Iranians in its leadership, they said.

Hezbollah began establishing it in the summer of 2018, it said. Daqduq, a senior Hezbollah leader, was captured by USA troops in Basra, Iraq in 2007. But Iraq's government released him after he was acquitted in an Iraqi criminal court.

A USA solider shows a picture of Ali Mussa Daqduq (L) during a news conference at the heavily fortified Green Zone area in Baghdad July 2, 2007.

He was held by American troops until he was handed over to Iraqi officials in December 2011. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to address the pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC in the US capital in late March. "We know a lot more", Netanyahu said. Broadcasting the Hezbollah terror cell on social media for all the world to see is clearly meant to serve as a way of stating Israel's case before an unconcerned world of the real dangers brewing on our borders.

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USA diplomats have said they are in talks with Israel about its request to recognize its sovereignty on the Golan, a status that has yet to win any formal endorsement among world powers.

Israel says a previous such unit was established in the Syrian Golan under the command of Samir Kantar and Jihad Mughniyeh.

Both were killed in separate 2015 air strikes attributed to Israel.

According to Israel's military, the new unit was seeking to revive infrastructure left behind by the former one.

The suspected unit is a part of a complex series of challenges Israel says it is facing in war-torn Syria. Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria to prevent attempts to smuggle weapons to the Hezbollah terror groups and keep Iranian-backed forces from digging themselves in near the border.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz dismissed such suggestions.

Lindsey Graham, an influential United States senator allied to President Donald Trump, toured the Golan with Netanyahu this week and vowed to work to have Washington recognise it as part of Israel "now and forever". Israel effectively annexed the Golan in 1981, in a move not recognized internationally, when it adopted legislation that applied its laws to the area.

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