BEIRUT- Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun said on Monday his country had a right to defend itself after Israeli drone strikes that were like a “declaration of war.”

“What happened was similar to a declaration of war which allows us to resort to our right to defending our sovereignty,” Aoun’s office quoted him as saying on Twitter.

Two drones crashed early on Sunday in Beirut’s southern suburbs, which are dominated by Hezbollah, prompting the Iran-backed movement to warn Israeli soldiers at the border to await a response.

Aoun met U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jan Kubis on Monday to discuss “the latest developments,” the president’s office said on Twitter.



Separately, Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri met Lebanon’s interior and defense ministers and with the army chief on Monday to discuss security issues, his office said, though it gave no further details.

Hariri, who has said the drones aimed to stir up regional tensions, is also due to meet the ambassadors of the U.N. Security Council’s five permanent members, his office said. He also stated that Lebanon wants to avoid escalation in Israel.

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Israeli drone strikes hit a military position belonging to a Palestinian faction in Lebanon’s Bekaa valley early on Monday, the group said.

Although Israel has not claimed the Beirut attack, Nasrallah said it was the first Israeli attack inside Lebanon since the two sides fought a deadly month-long war in 2006.




 

Sunday attacks

Alleged Israeli drones crashed in a southern suburb of Beirut on Sunday, prompting a strong reaction from the leader of the Hezbollah movement.

In a speech hours after one of the drones crashed in the Lebanese capital, Hassan Nasrallah said the Israeli drones were on a “suicide mission”.





“Hezbollah will not allow such an aggression,” he said in a televised address on Sunday. “The time when Israeli aircraft come and bombard parts of Lebanon is over.”

Nasrallah also pledged to retaliate to an Israeli air attack inside Syria that took place late on Saturday, which he said killed two Hezbollah members.

Later on Sunday, Iraq’s powerful Hashd al-Shaabi force, or Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), blamed Israel for carrying out a deadly drone attack close to the border with Syria.

‘Hostile act’

On Monday, Iraq’s President Barham Salih hosted leading members of the PMF along with the prime minister and the parliament speaker to discuss the instability.

“These attacks are a blatant, hostile act that target Iraq,” the presidency said in a statement, adding: “Iraqi sovereignty and the wellbeing of its people are a red line.”

It stressed the government would take all necessary steps to “deter aggressors and defend Iraq”, but did not threaten a military response.

Later on Monday, the PMF said it spotted another drone flying over one of its bases in the northern province of Nineveh.

“It was immediately dealt with using anti-aircraft weaponry. The drone left the area,” the group said in a statement.

Iraq’s military spokesman Yehya Rasool told AFP news agency on Monday the government had launched a new investigation into Sunday’s attack.

Asked what diplomatic action Iraq could take, the foreign ministry told AFP it would wait for official conclusions before resorting to the UN.

“If it was proven that a foreign entity was involved in these operations, we will take all steps – first among them, going to the Security Council and the United Nations,” spokesman Ahmad Sahhaf said on Monday.

Separate target

Earlier on Monday, Israeli drones attacked a Palestinian base in eastern Lebanon near the border with Syria, Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency reported.

Three attacks which came minutes apart struck a base for a Syrian-backed group known as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC), an ally of Hezbollah.




There was no immediate comment from Israel on the attack, which the agency said hit near the Lebanese village of Qusaya in the eastern Bekaa Valley.

Air raids by Israel against Palestinian factions in Lebanon, such as this one, have been rare in the past years.

Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr, reporting from Beirut, said the attack against the PFLP-GC base took place near the border with Syria, in very “rugged terrain”.

“It’s [the area] believed to be made up of tunnels, linking both countries together,” Khodr said.

Khodr said the attack was a message to Hezbollah more than the PFLP-GC since it came “just hours” after Nasrallah pledged to down any Israeli drone that violates Lebanese airspace.

Hezbollah and Israel fought a month-long war in 2006. The volatile border between the two countries, which remain technically in a state of war, has been mostly calm since that conflict.