The Israeli media and the IDF put out the line yesterday that another Hezbollah commander, Ali Hussein Barji, variously described as Hezbollah’s air force commander or drone chief, was targeted in an Israeli strike, which would be the second such deadly strike in two days, if true. Barji was supposedly killed in a car in the village of Khirbet Selm, adjacent to the town where the funeral of senior Hezbollah commander Wissam al-Tawil, killed by an Israeli strike on Jan. 8, was underway.
Unlike the case of al-Tawil, however, Hezbollah has not confirmed the death of Barji. “The Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation, along with the Israeli occupation army spokesperson alleged that the enemy had assassinated whom they called the head of Hezbollah’s drone unit or the air force,” reported Lebanon’s Al-Manar TV. “The Hezbollah’s Media Relations Office firmly denies this false and baseless claim, and affirms that the brother who is in charge of the drone unit in Hezbollah has never been subjected to any assassination attempt.” Hezbollah deputy leader, Naim Qassem, warned in a televised speech on Jan. 9 that his group did not want to expand the war from Lebanon, “but if Israel expands [it], the response is inevitable to the maximum extent required to deter Israel.”