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Hezbollah Sent Drone Over Israel, Leader Nasrallah Says

Bodyguards surround Lebanon's Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, left, as he addresses thousands of supporters on September 17, 2012. Photographer: Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images
Bodyguards surround Lebanon's Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, left, as he addresses thousands of supporters on September 17, 2012. Photographer: Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images

Oct. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Lebanon’s Hezbollah launched the drone that was shot down over Israeli territory last week, said Hassan Nasrallah, the chief of the militant Shiite Muslim group.

Nasrallah, speaking on the party’s Manar television station today, said the drone was Iranian-made and assembled by Hezbollah. He said it passed over “sensitive and important” locations, describing it as an “achievement” for the aircraft to fly for so long before it was downed.

“We are revealing here just a part of our capabilities and we’re hiding lots of other parts,” Nasrallah said. “We have the full right to launch as many reconnaissance flights as we like.”

Israel’s forces shot down the unmanned aircraft after it entered Israeli airspace from the Mediterranean Sea. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed today that the aerial vehicle was launched by Hezbollah, after Israel Radio on Oct. 7 cited unidentified army officials as saying that the Shiite group was responsible.

Nasrallah “wants to provoke Israel and play on Arab feelings that he is still holding the flag of the Arab resistance against Israel,” as well as distract attention from the uprising against his ally Bashar al-Assad in Syria, said Sami Nader, professor of international relations at St. Joseph University in Beirut.

‘Terrorists and Infiltrators’

“We will act with determination to defend our borders by sea, as we do on land with this fence that stops terrorists and infiltrators, and in the air, as we did when we frustrated the attempt by Hezbollah last weekend,” Netanyahu said today, while touring the barrier under construction at the border between Israel and Egypt, according to a text message from his office.

Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev said the prime minister was referring to the downed drone, and declined to give further details. Israel, which like the U.S. classifies Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, fought a monthlong war against the group in 2006.

Nasrallah also said that Hezbollah hasn’t sent fighters to help combat the uprising in Syria, though he didn’t rule out doing so in the future. Syrian opposition groups have said Hezbollah members are fighting alongside Assad’s army.

“The regime in Syria doesn’t need us or anyone else to fight alongside it,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Donna Abu-Nasr in Beirut at dabunasr@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Ben Holland at bholland1@bloomberg.net

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