Israel launches strikes in Lebanon after rocket attack

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 August, 2013, 11:28am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 August, 2013, 5:02am

Israel's air force yesterday bombed a militant base in Lebanon used by allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and radical Islamists in retaliation for a rare cross-border rocket salvo a day earlier.

There were no reported casualties in the Israeli raid near the Rashidiyi Palestinian refugee camp between Sidon and Beirut, or the rocket strike on Thursday in Israel's northern Galilee region.

Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon called the air strike a "response" to the rocket fire and said he "holds the Lebanese government responsible for what happens in its midst and won't accept any shooting or provocations".

An al-Qaeda-associated Sunni Muslim group calling itself the Brigades of Abdullah Azzam claimed responsibility for Thursday's attack.

Israel routinely retaliates for cross-border shootings, although such altercations have been rare since an inconclusive 2006 war with Hezbollah Shiite Muslim guerrillas in Lebanon.

Israel has also been reluctant to open a Lebanese front due to spiralling instability in the region.

But it fears al-Qaeda-linked groups in Syria may turn their sights on the Jewish state and the occupied Golan Heights or that Hezbollah may do so to deflect criticism from the Sunni Arab world for backing Assad.

While Hezbollah has lined up behind Assad, al-Qaeda affiliates are fighting with Syrian rebels against the government in Damascus.