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Hezbollah confirms drone program

Oct. 12, 2012 at 9:40 AM

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Oct. 12 (UPI) -- Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah flew an unmanned surveillance drone over Israeli territory, the organization's leader said.

Israeli officials last weekend said a drone aircraft was shot down after it floew about 30 miles across the Lebanese border near the West Bank. Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah took responsibility for the drone, saying it was a display of his movement's arsenal.

"(This) reveals that we are able to conceal our capabilities and unveil them at the right time in order to send certain messages at the right moment," he was quoted by The Daily Star newspaper in Lebanon as saying.

Nasrallah said the drone, made in Iran, flew over nuclear facilities inside Israeli territory. The Iranian-designed drone, which Nasrallah said had stealth capabilities, had a range of around 600 miles and could be equipped with weapons.

Nasrallah said it was Hezbollah's "natural right" to monitor Israeli activity in the region. By his estimates, Israeli forces violated Lebanese airspace more than 20,000 times since its brief war with Hezbollah in 2006. Israel downed a Hezbollah drone during that conflict.

An unnamed Israeli official told CNN that Hezbollah has been sending drones over Israel, but usually the Israeli just monitor the flights.

He told CNN: "To call them rinky-dink would be polite. The drones that Iranians display at airshows or that they tout for sale, defense industry press people describe them as crude."

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