Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group mourned Friday the killing in Syria of its top military commander, Mustafa Badreddine, who died in an explosion in Damascus — a death that is a major blow to the Shiite group, which has played a significant role in the conflict next door.
Badreddine, 55, had been the mastermind of the group’s involvement in Syria’s civil war since Hezbollah fighters joined the battle on the side of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces against those trying to remove him from power, according to pro-Hezbollah media. Hezbollah, along with Iran, has been one of Assad’s strongest backers.
Badreddine was suspected of involvement in the 1983 bombings of the U.S. and French embassies in Kuwait that killed five people. He was detained in Kuwait where he was sentenced to death and imprisoned for years until he fled jail in 1990 after Iraq’s forces under Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait.
There was little information as to how he was killed. Hezbollah said the attack occurred near the Damascus airport without giving details. The airport is close to the Shiite shrine of Sayyida Zeinab where the group has wide presence and several military positions.
Hezbollah said several others were wounded in the blast and that it was investigating the nature of the explosion — whether it was the result of an air raid, missile attack or artillery shelling.
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