Top Hizbullah Commander in Syria killed in Explosion; Radical Salafis blamed

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Mustafa Badreddine, the Hizbullah commander responsible for Syria, was killed Friday in an explosion near Damascus. It wasn’t clear whether he was hit by artillery fire or what.

The US now has a tacit alliance of convenience with Lebanon’s Hizbullah against Daesh (ISIS, ISIL), but continues to keep the organization on a terrorism list.

BBC Monitoring translated this broadcast:

“Lebanese Hezbollah has announced the death of one of its top military commander, Moustafa Badr-al-Din (Mustafa Badreddine), in an explosion near Damascus airport.

According to a statement reported by the group’s Al-Manar TV channel on 13 May, Hezbollah said: “Information coming out of the initial investigation indicate that a huge explosion targeted one of our centres near Damascus International Airport, which led to the martyrdom of Mustafa Badreddine (Al-Sayyed Zul-Faqqar) and the injury of others. The investigation will work on determining the nature of the explosion and its causes and whether it was a result of an air, missile or artillery attack. We will announce further results of the invetsigation soon.”

Earlier, Hezbollah was quoted as saying that Badreddine was killed in an Israeli air strike at Lebanese-Syrian borders.

Badreddine – and three other alleged Hezbollah members – is accused of assassinating former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri in Beirut in 2005.

Source: Al-Manar Television, Beirut, in Arabic 0427 gmt 13 May 16″

(Just to be clear, that bit about Hariri is commentary by the translator, not in the al-Manar report; al-Manar, the Hizbullah mouthpiece, would never say that.)

He was the highest ranking Hizbullah operative to be killed since Emad Mughniya in 2008, who was likely assassinated by Israeli intelligence. If Badreddine was killed in an airstrike, then his demise would also be owing to an Israeli intervention.

In that case, the Lebanese press is asking what kind of retaliation the organization will stage.

Update: Badreddin was killed by artillery fire, by Salafi jihadi forces, Hizbullah now says. That could mean the Saudi-backed Jaysh al-Islam, given where he was killed, near Damascus airport. Russia has been trying to get the latter declared a terrorist organization and remove it from the peace talks delegation, which it now leads. Or it could indicate the al-Qaeda offshot, the Nusra Front or Support Front.

In other words, this death will exacerbate further the severe Iran-Saudi tensions and challenge the current cessation of hostilities that is holding in some of Syria. [End update]

His death came the same week the Syrian government and the Shiite militias fighting alongside its troops lost Khan Touman near Aleppo to a fierce onslaught by al-Qaeda in Syria and its allies. Some 80 on the government side were killed, including members of the elite Quds Brigade of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps.

While some Iranians and Lebanese will be disheartened at the news, others will be reinfused with zeal to defeat the forces arrayed against Iran and the Lebanese Shiites. Lebanese Shiites and other minorities, including many Christians, were terrified in 2014 that Daesh might come into Lebanon and commit genocide against them. They are also generally afraid of the Salafi Jihadi forces backed by Saudi Arabia that are trying to overthrow the Syrian government.

The US has been de facto allied in Iraq with a group that Badruddin helped found, Iraqi Shiite militiamen fighting Daesh.

Badreddin Moustafa likely played a significant role in forcing the Israeli militiary back out of southern Lebanon, which it occupied in 1982 and gave no sign of any willigness to withdraw voluntarily.

Badreddiin was allegedly involved in the bombing that killed Marines in Beirut in 1982 and in bombing attempts on the US embassy in Kuwait in 1983.

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related video:

BBC News: “Hezbollah commander Badreddine killed in Syria – BBC News”

8 Responses

  1. Israel’s fanatacism is unparalleled, even by its copycat “security partner” the USA.

    “Badreddiin was allegedly involved in the bombing that killed Marines in Beirut in 1982 and in bombing attempts on the US embassy in Kuwait in 1983. ” WHAT?
    All the murderous behavior of the Israeli “allies” in 1982 is not mentioned, but this is dragged up??

  2. Professor Cole,

    Mugniya was assassinated in a joint Mossad-CIA operation per a NY Times report from last year. In fact, the times reported that it was actually Bush administration that approached Mossad with the idea, from what I can recall from the story.

    Love your blog,

    Former student

  3. The only thing I can say is good riddance. May more good news like this come because nothing can describe the Syrians’ happiness in the Twitter sphere.

    By the way, the shia sectarian militias have been reported on this very site to operate as early as 2011 yet surprisingly as of late Mr. Cole only mentions them with conjuncture with Daesh who do not operate anywhere near any area where the shia sectarian militias fight.

  4. Hezbollah retracted its earlier assertion that Israel was behind the attacks. The latest statement blames “takfiris.”

    • It appears from the most recent reports that Badreddine was not specifically targeted but rather routine battle shelling of Damascus International Airport caused his death.

      Thousands have reportedly attended his funeral.

      Here’s a link to his background:

      link to washingtonpost.com

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