A reported Israeli drone strike targeted a car in Syria near the Israeli border Wednesday, killing five people, Israeli media outlets reported. The dead were members of pro-Assad groups, including Hezbollah.
According to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, two of the dead were Hezbollah members. “An Israeli plane hit a car inside the town of Hader, killing two men from Hezbollah, and three men from the pro-regime popular committees in the town,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told Israel’s Channel 2.
Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV identified two of the dead as members of the National Defence Forces, a pro-government militia.
The strike is believed to have targeted notorious terrorist Samir Kuntar who carried out a terror raid on the northern Israeli town of Nahariya in 1979. In the attack, Kuntar smashed open the head of four-year-old Einat Haran with his rifle. Kuntar spent 29 years in an Israeli prison.
Since his released in a 2008 prisoner exchange with Hezbollah, Kuntar has been responsible for several attacks against IDF soldiers in the Golan Heights.
Abu Ghiath al-Shami, spokesman for the Alwiyat Seif al-Sham group, a Syrian rebel group operating in the same area as the attack, confirmed the attack to Reuters. “Israeli planes have been flying in the skies of Quneitra and the western Deraa countryside since this morning,” he said.
The car was traveling in the Syrian Golan Heights near the border with Israel when it was hit.
The Lebanon-based Hezbollah group is a supporter of Bashar Assad’s government in Syria, which has been involved in a bloody civil war for the past four years, as well as an ally of Iran.
Israeli officials have expressed concern that Hezbollah and Iranian operatives present in Syria would use positions in the Syrian Golan Heights to attack Israel. Another airstrike in January, also reportedly by Israel, killed six Iranian and Hezbollah fighters, including Jihad Mughniyeh and an Iranian general.
Hader is a Druze village now almost completely surrounded by Syrian rebel forces. Violent clashes have ensued, and Israel’s Druze population has expressed concern that their Syrian brethren are being targeted by the rebels, including Islamists.