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Thousands mourn Hezbollah's Mustafa Badreddine

Hezbollah commander, who was killed in Syria, buried in southern Beirut, as supporters call for revenge for his death.

Thousands of people in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, have attended the funeral of top Hezbollah commander Mustafa Badreddine, who was killed in Syria.

Badreddine died in an Israeli strike in Damascus this week, the Lebanese Shia group announced on Friday.

Badreddine’s coffin, draped with a yellow Hezbollah flag, was carried through the streets of a suburb in southern Beirut, as thousands of supporters called for revenge for his death.

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 thousands of its members are fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"[Badreddine] took part in most of the operations of the Islamic resistance since 1982," Hezbollah said in a statement, announcing his death and describing him as a "great jihadi leader".

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.


READ MORE: Israel - Any war with Hezbollah will be devastating


The group said it was working to "define the nature of the explosion and its cause, and whether it was the result of an air strike, or missile [attack] or artillery".

Successor to Mughniyah 

Mustafa Badreddine replaced his brother-in-law Imad Mughniyah after the Hezbollah commander was killed in a car bombing in Damascus in 2008.

Israel officially denied being behind Mughniyah's killing, but Israeli media reported at the time that the Hezbollah commander had been a target of Israeli assassination attempts since the 1990s.

Accounts cited by the Jerusalem Post stated that Mughniyah was assassinated by Israeli intelligence agents in revenge for the 2006 Lebanon War.

Earlier on Friday, the Lebanese TV station Al Mayadeen reported that Badreddine had also been killed in an Israeli attack.

However, there was no immediate response from Israel, which has attacked Hezbollah targets in Syria several times during the country's five-year conflict.

"We decline to comment," an Israeli military spokeswoman said.

'A significant blow' 

Badreddine was indicted by the United Nations-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon over the 2005 killing of a former prime minister, Rafik al-Hariri, and was also sanctioned by the United States.

Badreddine was sentenced to death in Kuwait for his role in bomb attacks there in 1983. He escaped from prison in Kuwait after Iraq, under the leadership of Saddam Hussein, invaded the country in 1990.

Mathew Levitt, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute and the author of Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon's Party of God, said that Badreddine's killing would hurt the group.

"This is a pretty significant blow to Hezbollah ... He was extremely close to the Secretary General of Hezbollah Hassan Nasrallah," Levitt said.


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