Hezbollah Blames Israel for Assassination of Weapons Commander in Lebanon

Militant Group Fought in Syria, Supporting Assad

By Reuters

Published December 04, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

A Hezbollah commander who fought in Syria’s civil war was shot dead outside his home in Lebanon on Wednesday in an attack which the militant Shi’ite group blamed on Israel.

Israel denied any role in the killing of Hassan al-Laqqis, who was shot from close range by a silenced gun as he arrived home at around midnight in the Hadath district of Beirut, a source close to Hezbollah said.

Hezbollah, which fought a 34-day war with Israel in 2006, also sent fighters into neighbouring Syria to support President Bashar al-Assad against mainly Sunni Muslim rebels, an intervention which helped to raise sectarian tension in Lebanon.

A previously unknown group, Ahrar al-Sunna Baalbek brigade, claimed responsibility for the attack in a message on Twitter. The claim could not be verified but the name of the purported group suggested Lebanese Sunni Muslim connections.

Footage from the scene broadcast by Hezbollah’s Al Manar television on Wednesday showed two bullet marks in a wall and muddy footprints it said had been left by possibly more than one assailant.

Hezbollah described Laqqis, who will be buried in Baalbek in the Bekaa Valley later in the day, as “one of the leaders of the Islamic resistance” against Israel who had been frequently targeted by the Jewish state.

He had been with Hezbollah since it was set up with Iranian support in the 1980s to fight Israeli troops occupying south Lebanon. His son was killed in the 2006 war, Hezbollah said in a statement.

“The Israeli enemy tried to get to our martyr brother several times, in more than one location, but these attempts failed until this repugnant assassination,” it said.

Israel would “bear full responsibility and all the consequences for this heinous crime”, it said.

But Israel denied involvement. “This has strictly nothing to do Israel,” foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said.

“Hezbollah has made a fool of itself in the past with these automatic and groundless accusations against Israel … If they are looking for explanations as to what is happening to them, they should examine their own actions.”

PROFESSIONAL HIT

The source close to Hezbollah said Laqqis had taken part in several battles inside Syria.

Five years ago top Hezbollah commander Imad Moughniyah was killed in a Damascus car bombing. Hezbollah has blamed Israel for Moughniyah’s death and vowed to avenge it.

The source also said Wednesday’s attack bore the hallmarks of an Israeli operation, and analyst Charles Lister of IHS Jane’s in London said it suggested an element of “professionalism and prior intelligence”.

“But what is very clear is that it comes under the context of Hezbollah and its role in Syria,” he said. “It was expected that Hezbollah would blame Israel, but that is not necessarily the case.”

The open role of Hezbollah fighters in the Syrian civil war and the steady flow of Lebanese Sunnis joining the anti-Assad rebels have fuelled sectarian strife in Lebanon.

Car bombs killed dozens of people in Beirut in August and a twin suicide attack on the Beirut embassy of Hezbollah’s patron Iran killed at least 25 people last month.

An Iranian foreign ministry spokeswoman blamed Israel for that attack, but responsibility was claimed by a Lebanon-based al Qaeda-linked group, the Abdullah Azzam brigades.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said he believed the group had support from Saudi Arabia, Iran’s main regional rival whose backing for Assad’s foes has pushed it deeper into a proxy conflict in Syria against Tehran.

Abdullah Azzam “is not a fictitious name,” Nasrallah said in an interview broadcast on Lebanese television on Tuesday night. “This group exists … It has its leadership … and I am convinced it is linked to Saudi intelligence,” he said.

“Saudi Arabia is the one who runs these kinds of groups in several places in the world.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.