Report: Israel airstrikes hit Lebanon-Syria border

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Associated Press

Posted on February 24, 2014 at 4:34 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 24 at 8:35 PM

BEIRUT (AP) — Israeli aircraft carried out two airstrikes Monday near the Lebanese-Syrian border, Lebanon's state news agency said. There was no immediate confirmation from Lebanese security officials, and the Israeli military declined comment.

Lebanon's National News Agency said the air raids took place near Nabi Sheet, a remote village in the eastern Bekaa Valley. The agency did not say what was targeted in the attack.

The porous border is frequently used by fighters and smugglers to move people and weapons between Lebanon and Syria. The Lebanese Shiite militant Hezbollah group, a close ally of Syria and a bitter enemy of Israel, also has a strong presence in the Bekaa area.

A Lebanese army spokesman said he had no indication of any airstrikes in the area, but that authorities were investigating the reports.

Residents in Nabi Sheet reported hearing several explosions late Monday, but the nature of the blasts was unclear.

Jaafar al-Musawi, head of Nabi Sheet Municipality, told Lebanon's Al-Jadeed TV there was no airstrike on the town. "We heard warplanes followed by explosions, it could be along the border with Syria," he said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights activist group said Israeli warplanes bombed a rocket launcher for Hezbollah fighters near the villages of Janta and Yahfoufa along the border. It was not known if the strikes hit inside Lebanese or Syrian territory, the Observatory added.

Israel and Hezbollah fought a bloody month-long war in 2006 that ended in a stalemate. Israeli officials believe Hezbollah has restocked its arsenal with tens of thousands of rockets and missiles, some of which are capable of striking virtually anywhere in the Jewish state.

While Israel has tried to stay out of the war in neighboring Syria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly threatened to take military action to prevent Syria from transferring sophisticated weapons to its ally Hezbollah. Over the past year, Israel has carried out several airstrikes inside Syria to halt suspected shipments of advanced missiles, including Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles and guided missiles from Iran, from reaching Hezbollah. Israel has never confirmed the airstrikes.

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