Last night for the first time in over a decade Israel tried to carry out a targeted airstrike over the southern suburbs of Beirut. The apparent assassination attempt failed, however, when one Israeli drone fell from the sky, crashing into a south Beirut neighborhood, and another exploded near the ground in the early hours of Sunday. Hezbollah indicated its forces had "downed" the first drone, possibly through electronic intercept.
The second drone struck near Hezbollah's media center, and may have either been targeting this building or possibly had been seeking to take out Hezbollah commanders.
Lebanon has slammed the Israeli aggression after the invasion of its airspace, and will take the case before the UN, while Israel has yet to comment. According to a statement cited in Reuters, the second drone had been packed with explosives:
Hezbollah spokesman told Lebanon’s state news agency NNA the second drone was rigged with explosives causing serious damage to the media center. Hezbollah is now examining the first drone, he said.
The Lebanese army said that one Israeli drone fell and another exploded at 02:30 am local time (2330 GMT), causing only material damage.
Lebanese president Michel Aoun called it a “blatant attack on Lebanon and the integrity of its territory,” and said that Israel’s “aggression is a threat to regional stability.”
The failed operation came as Israel also carried out a major air attack in and around Damascus. Unlike prior attacks on Syria, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) were quick to acknowledge this one, some of which was caught on film, with Syrian anti-air defenses seen active in the night sky.
Video of #Israel strikes in #Syria capital Damascus tonight.— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) August 25, 2019
In rare move, Israel claimed responsibility immediately, saying it thwarted an attack + targeted Iran IRGC & proxies. Casualties reported: pic.twitter.com/JROXbwpeT1
Israel claimed to have been preemptively thwarting a planned Iranian "killer drone" attack on Israel which was to be launched from Syrian soil, however without offering any evidence.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu affirmed in a statement, "In a major operational effort, we have thwarted an attack against Israel by the Iranian Quds Force and Shi'ite militias."
He further reiterated statements made previously in the week when it emerged that Israel has also been behind recent 'mystery airstrikes' on Iran-backed paramilitary bases in Iraq: "I reiterate: Iran has no immunity anywhere. Our forces operate in every sector against the Iranian aggression. 'If someone rises up to kill you, kill him first,'” he said.
Clearly, Israel has dramatically stepped up its so-called anti-Iranian expansion campaign, now launching preemptive attacks on not just Syria, but Lebanon and Iraq too. Over the past five weeks there's been three significant airstrikes on Iraqi paramilitary forces bases - at least one of which US officials have confirmed Israeli responsibility for.
Meanwhile, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah will address the Israeli attacks during a televised speech on Sunday.