Thousands Mourn Hezbollah Commander in Beirut

Thousands Mourn Hezbollah Commander in Beirut
Thousands Mourn Hezbollah Commander in Beirut

Thousands of people attended the funeral in Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, of top Hezbollah military commander Mustafa Amine Badreddine.

Badreddine was killed in artillery fire by militants, the Lebanese group says. His martyrdom near Damascus airport was announced on Friday and initially blamed on Israel, Hezbollah’s chief enemy.

Hezbollah has sent thousands of troops to support Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.

In 2015, the US said Badreddine was behind all Hezbollah’s military operations in Syria since 2011, BBC reported.

Without naming any group, the Hezbollah statement said: “Investigations have showed that the explosion, which targeted one of our bases near Damascus International Airport, and which led to the martyrdom of Commander Mustafa Badreddine, was the result of artillery bombardment carried out by takfiri groups in the area.”

Takfiri is used to describe extremists who believe Muslim society has reverted to a state of non-belief.

Images from the funeral showed the coffin being carried among a mass of supporters in the southern suburbs of Beirut.

Some people at the funeral blamed Israel for the killing, with one mourner saying: “Hezbollah has many spies.” Another said that without Badreddine, “Daesh [another name for so-called Islamic State] would be here.”

An initial report by Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen TV said Badreddine, 55, had died in an Israeli airstrike. But a later statement by Hezbollah on al-Manar’s website did not mention Israel. But Israel has been accused by Hezbollah of killing a number of its fighters in Syria since the conflict began.

The group was established in the wake of the Israeli occupation of Lebanon in the early 1980s.

One Hezbollah MP in Lebanon, Nawar al-Saheli, said: “This is an open war and we should not preempt the investigation. The resistance will carry out its duties at the appropriate time.”

Yaakov Amidror, a former national security adviser to Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, said: “We don’t know if Israel is responsible for this. “But from Israel’s view, the more people with experience, like Badreddine, who disappear from the wanted list, the better.”

However, any of the armed groups seeking to overthrow President Assad might have sought to kill the man coordinating Hezbollah military activities.

Reuters quoted White House spokesman, Josh Earnest, as saying that there were “no US or coalition aircraft in the area where he was reported to be killed”.