BEIRUT (AFP) – Israeli warplanes violated Lebanese airspace over the south of the country, drawing retaliatory anti-aircraft fire from the Lebanese army.
The warplanes roared at low altitude over coastal regions around the main southern port cities of Tyre and Sidon and Lebanese army troops opened anti-aircraft fire in their direction, police said Thursday.
UN representative Staffan de Mistura has repeatedly condemned Israel for its continued violations of Lebanese airspace after the May 2000 Israeli troop pullout from southern Lebanon following 22 years of occupation.
The overflights occurred amid heightened tension in the region following last week’s assassination of ex-Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri which the opposition has blamed on the regime and their political masters in Damascus.
Syria has denied any role and its official press has accused Israel of having a hand in Hariri’s assassination in a Beirut bomb blast on February 14.
In turn, Israel pointed to possible Syrian involvement in the assassination and voiced fears of a possible flare-up in violence on the border with Lebanon.