An Israeli drone strike has struck a car near Lebanon’s southern port city of Sidon, killing at least two people and injuring two others, security officials said.
The strike came as tensions across the Middle East grow with the Israel-Hamas war, a drone attack last month that killed three US troops in north-eastern Jordan near the Syrian border and attacks by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels on vessels passing through the Red Sea.
The drone strike near the coastal town of Jadra took place about 37 miles from the Israeli border, making it one of the furthest inside Lebanon since violence erupted along the Lebanon-Israel border on October 8, a day after Hamas’ attack in southern Israel.
An Israeli security official said the target of the strike in Sidon was Hamas official Basel Saleh, who was “injured to an unknown extent”.
The official said Mr Saleh was responsible for enlistment of new Hamas recruits in Gaza and the West Bank.
The attack in Lebanon came as Iran’s foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian met in Beirut with Lebanese leaders including the country’s caretaker prime minister, parliament speaker and the head of the militant Hezbollah group.
Mr Amirabdollahian said that if the United States wants to bring stability to the region again, it should work on forcing Israel to end its military operations in the Gaza Strip.
He told reporters after meeting his counterpart Abdallah Bouhabib that after four months of war, Israel and its backers did not achieve “anything tangible”.
In an apparent reference to attacks by Iran-backed fighters in Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, Mr Amirabdollahian said “if American wants calm to prevail in the region, then the mechanism and the solution is to stop the genocide, crimes and the war against Gaza and the West Bank”.
He blasted Washington, saying the US is working on two tracks, one of which is sending weapons to Israel “and participating in the genocide in Gaza” and at the same time speaking about reaching a political solution to the war.
Two Lebanese security officials said the strike damaged a car and killed two people, including one on a motorcycle.
Lebanese troops cordoned off the area.
Drone strikes in Lebanon blamed on Israel have so far killed several officials from Hezbollah as well as the Palestinian militant group Hamas. The previous farthest strike was the January 2 attack that killed top Hamas official Saleh Arouri in Beirut.
The US Central Command announced on Saturday that the US military conducted self-defence strikes against two mobile unmanned surface vessels, four anti-ship cruise missiles, and one mobile land attack cruise missile that were prepared to launch against ships in the Red Sea from Yemen.
The military said the missiles and an unmanned vessel in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen presented an imminent threat to US Navy ships and merchant vessels in the region.
Since November, the rebels have repeatedly targeted ships in the Red Sea over Israel’s offensive in Gaza.
But they have frequently targeted vessels with tenuous or no clear links to Israel, imperilling shipping in a key route for trade among Asia, the Middle East and Europe.
Tensions have also flared elsewhere in the region. A US air strike in Baghdad on Wednesday killed a commander of Kataib Hezbollah, one of the most powerful armed groups in Iraq, as part of Washington’s retaliation for the killing of three US troops in Jordan last month.
The Islamic Resistance in Iraq, an umbrella group of Iran-backed militias that has launched numerous attacks on US forces in Iraq and Syria, issued a call on Friday for fighters to join its ranks to drive “occupying forces” out of the country.
The Islamic Resistance in Iraq has conducted about 170 attacks on bases with US troops in Iraq and Syria over the last four months, saying they were due to Washington’s support of Israel in its war in Gaza and that it aims to expel American forces from the region.
Iraqi and US officials launched formal talks last month to wind down the presence of US-led coalition forces in Iraq, but the talks were paused following the death of three American troops in a strike in Jordan attributed to the Islamic Resistance in Iraq.
Officials from both countries announced on Thursday that the talks will resume, with the next meeting set for Sunday.
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