Hezbollah source says local chief among 4 killed in south Lebanon

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Four Hezbollah fighters were killed overnight in southern Lebanon, the Iran-backed movement announced Thursday, in what Lebanese state media said were Israeli strikes on the border town of Naqura.

The deaths, which according to a source close to the powerful militant group include a local Hezbollah leader, follow a strike on Beirut this week that killed a senior Hamas leader, raising regional tensions as war rages in Gaza.

Hezbollah said in a statement the four fighters had been killed “on the road to Jerusalem” — a phrase it has been using to announce deaths of its members due to Israeli fire since the Israel-Hamas fighting started on Oct. 7.

The group did not elaborate, but a source close to Hezbollah told AFP that the four were killed in Naqura near the Israeli border, adding that one of them was the movement’s local leader.

Lebanon’s official National News Agency said Israeli aircraft “carried out raids on the centre of Naqura, which destroyed a home and damaged surrounding houses”.

Hezbollah has exchanged near-daily fire with Israeli forces since Oct. 8, the day after Hamas attacks triggered an intense Israeli military campaign against the Palestinian armed group, also supported by Iran, in the Gaza Strip.

The Lebanese group on Wednesday announced the deaths of five other fighters in southern Lebanon.

Nearly three months of cross-border fire have left 175 people in Lebanon dead, including 129 Hezbollah fighters, but also more than 20 civilians including three journalists, according to an AFP tally.

In northern Israel, where Hezbollah has primarily targeted military positions near the border, nine soldiers and five civilians have been killed, according to Israeli authorities.

On Tuesday a strike killed Hamas’s deputy leader, Saleh al-Aruri, and six others in a southern Beirut stronghold of Hezbollah. A U.S. defence official told AFP Israel was behind the attack.

Aruri is the most senior Hamas figure to be killed during the war, and his death came in the first strike on the Lebanese capital since hostilities began.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah warned Israel in a speech on Wednesday against starting a war in Lebanon, assuring that his movement would fight “without limits”.

Several Hamas figures in exile reside in Lebanon, under the protection of Hezbollah.

Israel vowed to “destroy” Hamas after the unprecedented attack on October 7, which left around 1,140 dead in Israel, according to an AFP count based on official figures.

The Israeli offensive on Gaza has killed 22,313 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

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