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Israel’s air force strikes deep inside Lebanon, killing 2

BEIRUT — The Israeli military said its air force on Monday struck targets of the terrorist Hezbollah group “deep inside Lebanon,” as Lebanese officials said targets were hit near the northeastern city of Baalbek. At least two Hezbollah members were killed in the strikes, an official for the Lebanese terrorist group said.

The strikes are among the deepest into Lebanon since the Israel-Hamas war began more than four months ago. They come a day after Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant vowed to step up attacks on Hezbollah even if a cease-fire is reached with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The strikes, which came shortly after Hezbollah said its air defenses shot down an Israeli drone, are likely to increase tensions along the Lebanon-Israel border as talks for a cease-fire in Gaza are underway.

In the afternoon, Hezbollah said it retaliated for the airstrikes near Baalbek by firing 60 Katyusha rockets toward an Israeli army division command in Syria’s Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The Israeli military confirmed that dozens of rockets were launched from Lebanon towards Israel on Monday afternoon.

Lebanese security officials said Israel’s air force carried out three airstrikes on the outskirts of the village of Buday, near Baalbek, targeting a convoy of trucks. Buday is a Hezbollah stronghold.

A Hezbollah official confirmed that three strikes hit near Baalbek. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters. He said the strikes killed at least two members of the group and that one hit a warehouse for food products that is part of Hezbollah’s Sajjad Project that sells to people in its stronghold at prices lower than on the market.

The airstrikes near Baalbek occurred less than two hours after Hezbollah said its fighters on Monday shot down an Israeli Elbit Hermes 450 drone over its stronghold in a province in southern Lebanon. Another missile fired by Hezbollah toward the drone was intercepted by Israel, and landed near a synagogue in a town close to Nazareth in northern Israel. There were no injuries or damage.

The Israeli army said in a statement later in the day that its fighter jets struck sites used by Hezbollah in the eastern Bekaa Valley. It said they were in retaliation for Hezbollah’s firing of a surface-to-air missile at the Israeli drone.

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