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Top Hezbollah commander killed in Syria

Gorkha Post

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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.

Reuters

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Magnitude 8.2 quake rattles Fiji

Thompson Reuters

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A massive quake of magnitude 8.2 struck in the Pacific Ocean close to Fiji and Tonga on Sunday but it was so deep that it was not expected to cause any damage, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.

The US Tsunami Warning Center also said the quake was too deep to cause a tsunami.

The quake was 347.7 miles (560 km) below the Earth which would have dampened the shaking at the surface.

“I would not expect any damage. People will feel it but it’s so deep that I would not expect any damage,” USGS geophysicist Jana Pursley said by telephone.

The quake was initially reported as a magnitude 8.0 and then upgraded to 8.2, a magnitude that could cause tremendous damage had it not been so deep.

The epicenter was located 167 miles (270 km) east of Levuka in Fiji and 275 miles (443 km) west of Neiafu in Tonga.

The area is located on the earthquake-prone Ring of Fire.

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