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IDF says it has killed half of Hezbollah commanders in southern Lebanon

Beirut/Jerusalem: The Israeli army says it has killed more than half of all Hezbollah commanders in southern Lebanon after artillery and fighter jets hit about 40 targets near the two countries’ border.

It came after Hezbollah carried out a complex drone strike on an Israeli border village, in response to previous attacks by Israel.

A Lebanese villager looks through a broken window of his house that was damaged last week by Israeli shelling in Kfar Kila, a border village with Israel.

A Lebanese villager looks through a broken window of his house that was damaged last week by Israeli shelling in Kfar Kila, a border village with Israel.Credit: AP

Iran-backed Hezbollah and Israel have been waging their worst hostilities in nearly two decades since the war in Gaza broke out in October, raising concerns about the risk of a wider and more destructive conflict between the heavily armed foes.

The Israeli military said the attacks around Ayta al-Shaab, about 3 kilometers (2 miles) inside the Lebanese border, hit infrastructure including storage facilities and weapons in an area they said was extensively used by Hezbollah forces.

“There is ongoing offensive action by IDF forces throughout southern Lebanon, as well as in other parts of Lebanon. The operational results are very impressive,” Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said in a statement after an operational meeting at the army’s Northern Command. He said half of Hezbollah commanders in southern Lebanon had been killed.

People walk past a building destroyed by Israeli shelling in Kfar Kila, southern Lebanon.  Hezbollah militants and Israeli forces have been exchanging fire since a day after the war between Israel and Hamas began on October 7.

People walk past a building destroyed by Israeli shelling in Kfar Kila, southern Lebanon. Hezbollah militants and Israeli forces have been exchanging fire since a day after the war between Israel and Hamas began on October 7.Credit: AP

A Hezbollah official dismissed the claim as “completely worthless” and aimed only at boosting Israeli morale. He said the group regularly published photos and biographical details of fighters killed in the fighting.

On Wednesday, the movement held a funeral for a senior commander, Hussein Azkoul, who was killed by Israel earlier this week.

Speaking at the funeral, senior Hezbollah lawmaker Hassan Fadlallah indicated that Azkoul had played a role in developing Hezbollah’s drone and missile capabilities, pushing the battle with Israel into “a new phase.”