BEIRUT — Top Hezbollah commander Mustafa Badreddine has been killed in an attack in Syria, the Lebanese group says, the biggest blow to the Iranian-backed organisation since its military chief was killed in 2008.
Badreddine, 55, was one of the highest-ranking officials in the group and assessed by the US government to be responsible for Hezbollah’s military operations in Syria, where it is fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Hezbollah said Badreddine had been killed in a big explosion targeting one of its bases near Damascus airport and an investigation was underway into whether it was caused by an air strike, a missile attack or artillery bombardment.
The Lebanese TV station al-Mayadeen earlier reported he had been killed in an Israeli attack.
There was no immediate response from Israel which has struck Hezbollah targets inside Syria several times during the country’s five-year conflict.
“We decline to comment,” an Israeli military spokeswoman 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 and he had accompanied Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah during strategic coordination meetings with Mr Assad in Damascus.
Badreddine, a brother-in-law of the late Hezbollah military commander, Imad Moughniyah, was indicted by the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon in the 2005 killing of statesman Rafik al-Hariri.
He was sentenced to death in Kuwait for his role in bomb attacks there in 1983.
He escaped from prison in Kuwait after Iraq, under the leadership of Saddam Hussein, invaded the country in 1990.
For years, Badreddine masterminded military operations against Israel from Lebanon and overseas and managed to escape capture by Arab and Western governments by operating clandestinely.
2 Nepalis in Lhasa jail for smuggling gold
RASUWA — Two Nepali youths are reported to be in a jail in Lhasa of China, on the charge of their involvement in gold smuggling.
Gyal Dorje Tamang of Gosaikunda Rural Municipality-5 in Rasuwa and Bikash Waiba of Hakubesi of Aamachhodongmo Rural Municipality were detained in Chinese territory by the customs department informers of the Tibet government around a month ago as they were about to enter Nepal on a truck bearing the Nepali number plate.
The Chinese side confiscated nine pieces of precious yellow metal from the two, Rasuwa District Police Office quoted the Nepal Consulate General Office in Lhasa as saying.
According to Rasuwa DPO’s Inspector of Police Dhruba Silwal, further details regarding the case are awaited.
It may be noted that the Chinese side has already started implementing the proposal floated by the Nepali side during the past border-security meetings to increase its surveillance in such illegal affairs bearing in mind increasing smuggling of gold into Nepali territory via China, as Silwal said.Follow @gorkhapost