Top Iranian and Hezbollah commanders were killed in an Israeli helicopter strike on Syria’s Golan Heights, according to Lebanese and Turkish media outlets.
Two chief Hezbollah commanders, Jihad Mughniyeh and Mohammed Issa, and an Iranian commander, Abu Ali Tabtabai, were killed in the Sunday strike. A Turkish media outlet reported that a total of eleven militants, including six Iranians and five members of Hezbollah, were killed in the strike. Lebanon’s Daily Star reported that at least seven were killed in the strikes.
Hezbollah released a statement confirming that several of their “mujahedeens were martyred” near the Syrian town of Quneitra. An AFP report said that an Israeli helicopter fired two missiles in the area.
Hezbollah commander Jihad Mughniyeh was reportedly in charge of planning attacks against Israel. His father, Imad, was formerly a chief Hezbollah commander who was killed in a 2008 car bombing. Imad Mughniyeh has been deemed responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers, CIA operatives, and diplomatic personnel. He was suspected of masterminding the bombings of both the Beirut U.S. Marine Barracks in 1993 and the 1983 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon.
Israeli forces have reportedly been on high alert in the Israeli-held areas of the Golan Heights. Last week Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said that his Shia terror group was prepared for “war with Israel.” He said that Hezbollah was ready to fight deep into Israel if necessary. “We have military abilities that will deliver us the victory against Israel,” he added.
Israel has not yet commented on the Sunday strike.
In late December, photographs emerged on Twitter of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) soldiers near Israel’s border. In an Iranian Army affiliated blog post, the soldiers threatened to destroy the Jewish State. “We are arriving… near the Mother of Corruption, the accursed Israel; soon we will pass over their bodies, Allah willing,” the post read. Earlier in December, Israel had reportedly bombed several Iranian-owned intelligence outposts in Syria.