Israel says it targeted Hezbollah militants at Syrian border

BEIRUT — Israel fired on Hezbollah militants who were attempting to plant a bomb on Syria’s border with the occupied Golan Heights, the Israeli army said Wednesday, as frictions with the Lebanese Shi’ite movement rise.

The Israeli army said it targeted ‘‘two Hezbollah-affiliated terrorists’’ on its cease-fire line with Syria. Syrian state news agency SANA said four missiles and four rockets were fired onto its territory, followed by machine gun fire, in violation of their cease-fire agreement.

The incident comes at a time of heightened tensions between Israel and Hezbollah. The Iran-backed group had vowed to retaliate after an alleged Israeli strike on one of its positions last week, its first attack on Hezbollah inside Lebanese territory since the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war.


Hezbollah, which is estimated to have sent thousands of its fighters to Syria to back President Bashar Assad’s troops, may be attempting to revive support at home by provoking its traditional enemy Israel, analysts say.

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‘‘Hezbollah is overstretched because of Syria, and it’s very important for them to convey that they aren’t overstretched and they can still fight their main enemy,’’ said Phillip Smyth, a researcher at the University of Maryland specializing in Shiite militant groups.

The group is under pressure as it digs into a new battle for the rebel-held Syrian border town of Yabroud and there are unconfirmed reports that it has suffered heavy losses in the area.

As the Syrian conflict continues to threaten the stability of its neighbors, atrocities continue within the country’s borders. The United Nations on Wednesday released a report on human rights violations in Syria during the six months to Jan. 20, detailing war crimes perpetrated by both sides.

The report went further than the United Nations has done previously in assigning blame for the Aug. 21 chemical attack, which led the United States to threaten retaliatory military strikes against Damascus.


The available evidence indicated the perpetrators ‘‘likely had access to the chemical weapons stockpile of the Syrian military, as well as the expertise and equipment necessary to manipulate safely large amount of chemical agents,’’ it said.