Missile launcher returned to Hezbollah after Israel attack

It was confiscated by Druze villagers after Hezbollah fired a barrage of missiles on Israel

Lebanese soldiers stand near a lorry carrying a rocket launcher after residents confiscated it in the southern village of Chouya on August 6.
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A missile-launching lorry confiscated from Hezbollah last week after the group fired a huge barrage of rockets at Israel has been released, the Iran-backed group has claimed.

Four suspects were turned over to the Lebanese army after being stopped by an angry mob of Druze villagers when the missile lorry they were driving passed through the village of Chouya on Friday.

The mob stopped the vehicle and threatened those driving, before handing over the men.

The Lebanese Armed Forces did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

At least one of the suspects was released later on the same day and video posted to social media appeared to show him receiving a hero’s welcome.

The release of the missile lorry prompted fury on social media. “Only in Lebanon” wrote one user.

The incident threatened to inflame ethnic tensions, with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah referring to it in a speech at the weekend.

Mr Nasrallah was forced to justify his use of non-Shiite areas in Lebanon’s south as a launch pad to attack Israel.

“If we could target the selected area from our homes we would have," he said. "But we wanted to target a specific area in Israel without civilians to avoid escalation.

“The only way to get to that area was to cross these villages."

The Hezbollah barrage came in response to the first Israeli air strikes on Lebanon since 2006.

Updated: August 10, 2021, 11:02 PM