Top Hezbollah commander Mustafa Badreddine was killed in an Israeli strike in Syria this week, the Lebanese Shia group has said.
“He took part in most of the operations of the Islamic resistance since 1982,” Hezbollah said in a statement on Friday, announcing his death and describing him as a “great jihadi leader”.
Badreddine, 55, was one of the highest ranking officials in the group, and believed by the US government to be responsible for Hezbollah’s military operations in Syria, where it is fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
He was killed on Tuesday night, the statement said, adding that the attack targeted one of Hezbollah’s bases near Damascus airport, the group’s nerve-centre in the Syrian capital.
The Jerusalem Post reports the story from a somewhat different angle:
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.
Indications are that Israel does not appear to be connected with reports of Badreddine’s death.
The commander’s reputation as a ruthless killer and tactician in the Arab world is legendary. In 1984, the Kuwaiti government sentenced him to death after implicating him in a number of deadly bombings, which targeted the American and French embassies and the airport, according to Internet publication The Daily Beast.
He later escaped execution in Kuwait after Iraq, under the leadership of Saddam Hussain, invaded the country in 1990 releasing scores of inmates from numerous prisons.
Prosecutors for the International Criminal Court have also accused Badreddine of committing numerous war crimes, alleging in a 2011 report that he, along with a small contingent of collaborators, was behind the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri.
“Great jihadi leader,” as always, translates to “murdering thug.” The varying responses to his death should be instructive.