The attacked car that was used by the senior Hezbollah commander Wissam Tawil, who was killed on Monday, in Kherbet Selem village, south Lebanon, on January 9, 2024. Image Credit: AP

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Hezbollah said on Tuesday said it launched a drone attack on an Israeli military command centre as part of its response to the killing of senior Hezbollah figure Wissam Tawil on Monday and the deputy chief of Hamas last week.

The group said it launched “a number of explosive attack drones” at the military headquarters in Safed, the first time it has targeted the site.

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Earlier, three members of Iran-aligned Hezbollah were killed in a targeted strike on their vehicle in the town of Ghandouriyeh in the south of Lebanon, two sources familiar with the group’s operations told Reuters.

The sources did not immediately identify those killed on Tuesday. Israel had killed a top Hezbollah commander in a strike in south Lebanon a day prior, sources familiar with the group’s operations said. There was no immediate comment from Israel on Monday’s operation.

Wissam Tawil was a commander of Hezbollah’s elite Radwan forces and the most senior Hezbollah officer killed so far in the conflict, a senior source in Lebanon said, adding he played a leading role in directing its operations in the south.

More than 130 Hezbollah militants including Radwan members have been killed in hostilities since the group’s Palestinian ally Hamas attacked Israel from Gaza on October 7, igniting a conflict that has rippled around the region.

It has marked the deadliest confrontation between Israel and the Iran-backed Hezbollah since they went to war in 2006, with Hezbollah firing guided rockets and other weapons at Israeli positions and Israel launching air and artillery strikes.

Tens of thousands of people on both sides of the frontier have fled, and the fighting has raised concern of an even wider conflict.

Wissam Tawil, right, who was killed in Kherbet Selem village, south Lebanon, with slain Hezbollah top commander Mustafa Badreddine, who was killed in Syria on May 2016. Image Credit: AP

Tawil and another Hezbollah fighter were killed when the car they were in was struck in the village of Majdal Selm, some 6 km (3.7 miles) from the border, three sources in Lebanon said.

Hezbollah circulated photographs of Tawil with leaders of the heavily armed, Shiite militant group including Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah and Imad Mughniyeh, its military commander who was killed in Syria in 2008.

Big blow

Another photo showed him sitting next to the late leader of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, who was killed by a US drone strike in Baghdad four years ago.

The senior source said Tawil’s death marked a big blow given his experience including deployments with Hezbollah in Syria and Iraq.

Hezbollah says its current campaign against Israel aims to support Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which has been devastated by an Israeli offensive since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack.

The hostilities between Hezbollah and Israel have largely been contained to areas near the Lebanese-Israeli border.

Tensions spiked higher last week when an Israeli strike killed deputy Hamas leader Saleh Al Aruri in Beirut’s southern suburbs, an area controlled by Hezbollah. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied its responsibility for that attack.

Hezbollah said on Saturday it had hit a key Israeli observation post with 62 rockets as a “preliminary response” to Arouri’s killing.