An Israeli security source confirmed to Reuters on Sunday that the Israeli military had carried out the attack in Syria that killed five members of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement.
The Israeli military has declined official comment on the helicopter strike inside Syria which killed a commander of the Islamist guerrilla group and son of a late Hezbollah leader. The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: “It was an Israeli helicopter that carried out the attack.”
Israeli media said the men who were killed had been plotting to attack or capture towns in northern Israel.
Israeli Channel 10 television said an official Israeli source had confirmed that Israel had mounted an attack inside Syria, on Sunday.
Israel’s Ynet news Web site quoted a military source as saying the attack had targeted “terrorists who intended to attack Israel.”
Two sources close to Hezbollah said the son of late Hezbollah military leader Imad Moughniyah was one of those killed in the attack. The elder Moughniyah, who was on the United States’ most wanted list for attacks on Israeli and Western targets, was assassinated in Damascus in 2008.
The missile strike hit Jihad Moughniyah’s convoy in the Syrian province of Quneitra, near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, the Lebanese sources said.
The strike comes three days after Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said he considered frequent Israeli strikes in Syria as a major aggression, and that Syria and its allies had the right to respond. Hezbollah has been fighting alongside President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria’s nearly four-year-old civil war.
The Hezbollah-run al-Manar news channel did not mention Moughniyah but said Hezbollah had confirmed that a group of its fighters were killed when they were checking an area in Quneitra.
It said Hezbollah would announce the names of the dead later on Sunday.
Quneitra has seen heavy fighting between forces loyal to Assad and rebels including fighters linked to al Qaeda.
“An Israeli helicopter fired two missiles on Amal Farms in Quneitra,” the Lebanese news channel said earlier, adding that two reconnaissance planes had also been seen flying over the area.
Israel has struck Syria several times since the start of the war, mostly destroying weaponry such as missiles that Israeli officials said were destined for Hezbollah, Israel’s long-time foe in neighboring Lebanon.
Syria said last month that Israeli jets had bombed areas near Damascus international airport and in the town of Dimas, near the border with Lebanon.