Israel kills Hezbollah commander in Syria

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Damascus: Israel Thursday night killed military commander of the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah who was leading his fighters against rebels in Syria.

Mustafa Badreddine was killed in the Israeli attack near Damascus International Airport on Friday, Lebanese al-Mayadeen television channel reported.

Badreddine, 55, was one of the highest ranking officials in the group, according to security sources.

Badreddine was the commander of Hezbollah’s military arm, its chief of intelligence, and adviser to the movement’s Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah.

“He took part in most of the operations of the Islamic resistance since 1982,” Hezbollah said in a statement announcing his death, describing Badreddine as “the great commander”, the statement said.

A US Department of the Treasury statement detailing sanctions against Badreddine last year said he was assessed to be responsible for the group’s military operations in Syria since 2011. Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran, is fighting in Syria against rebels backed by the US and its regional allies.

The U.S. Treasury statement said Badreddine had accompanied Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah during strategic coordination meetings with Assad in Damascus.

It also said he had led Hezbollah ground offensives in the Syrian town of al-Qusayr in February 2013, a critical battle in the war when Hezbollah fighters defeated Syrian rebels in an area near the Syrian-Lebanese border.

Badreddine was the cousin and brother-in-law of the top Hezbollah commander, Imad Mughniyeh, who was likewise assassinated by the Israel in Damascus in 2008. Israel’s spy agency, Mossad, killed Mughniyeh by remotely detonating a bomb planted in the spare tire of a parked SUV in the Syrian capital.

Mughniyah’s son, Jihad, was also killed in an Israeli airstrike in Syria in January 2015.

Israel is widely known for its support for rebels trying to topple the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. According to Israel’s Channel 2 television, the number of militants having been treated by Israeli medical staff since 2011 has reached 2,100.

In December 2015, the British newspaper Daily Mail said the Israeli regime had saved the lives of more than 2,000 militants since 2013.

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