Israeli troops shelled several Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon today, nominally in retaliation for a bombing attack against troops along the border. It was soon apparent, however, that Hezbollah was not to blame.
Rather, it was al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), the splinter faction which controls territory across northern Syria and Iraq, which claimed credit for the strike. The bomb hit an Israeli military convoy, though it did not cause any injuries.
Hezbollah and AQI have been fighting against one another in the Syrian Civil War, with Hezbollah backing the Assad government and AQI the largest of the rebel factions. Israel has long expressed a preference for the rebels, though the rise of al-Qaeda-style groups has had some officials hinting at a rethink.
While the border strike in and of itself was fairly inconsequential, the first AQI strike against Israel could be a further escalation by the group across the region. The group is active in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, attacking targets there regularly, and has suggested it intends to spread across much of the region.
Despite its name, AQI is no longer actually affiliated with al-Qaeda, which disavowed the group earlier this year for its overly brutal behavior in Syria. Al-Qaeda has named Jabhat al-Nusra, a rival rebel faction, its official representation in Syria.
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