Feel good story of the day.
BEIRUT (AP) — A Hezbollah commander and several fighters have been killed inside Syria, a Lebanese security official said Tuesday, a development that could stoke already soaring tensions over the Lebanese militant group’s role in the civil war next door.
Hezbollah’s reputation has taken a beating over its support for the Syrian regime, but any sign that the group’s fighters are taking part in the battle raises fears that the conflict could expand into a wider fight engulfing the region.
Assad’s fall would be a dire scenario for Hezbollah. Any new regime led by Syria’s majority Sunni Muslims would likely be far less friendly — or even outright hostile — to Shiite Muslim Hezbollah. Iran remains the group’s most important patron, but Syria is a crucial supply route. Without it, Hezbollah will struggle to get money and weapons as easily.
It was not immediately clear how the Hezbollah militants were killed or whether they had been fighting alongside the Syrian army. But Hezbollah’s newspaper al-Intiqad said Hezbollah commander Ali Hussein Nassif, who is also known as Abu Abbas, was killed “while performing his jihadi duties.” It did not say when or where he was killed.
Nassif’s funeral, which was held in the eastern town of Budai, near Baalbek, was attended by top Hezbollah officials including the head of the judicial council and the political bureau, an indication of Nassif’s high prestige.
On Tuesday, Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV showed the funerals of at least two other Hezbollah members it said were killed while performing their “jihadi duty.” Both funerals were attended by Hezbollah officials and commanders.
The coffins of the dead were draped with Hezbollah’s yellow flags and carried by militants in black uniforms and red berets. Hundreds of people marched in the funeral.
Samer al-Homsi, an activist in Syria’s central Homs province, which borders Lebanon, said Nassif was killed Saturday when a roadside bomb went off as the car he was in passed just outside the town of Qusair. He said Nassif and several other people were killed in the blast.
“His job was to coordinate with Syrian security agencies,” al-Homsi said via Skype.