Hezbollah buries top commander ‘killed in Syria’
BEIRUT - A senior Hezbollah commander was buried in the east Lebanese Bekaa valley, the Shiite movement said on Tuesday, as Syrian rebels claimed he was killed in Syria.
"Hezbollah and the people of the village of Buday...held a funeral for the martyred commander, Ali Hussein Nassif, known as Abu Abbas," according to a Hezbollah-affiliated website, moqawama.org.
"He died while performing his jihadist duties," the web report added, without specifying how, when or where the commander was killed.
Damascus ally Hezbollah is one of Lebanon's main political parties and the country's most powerful military force.
In recent months, Hezbollah has announced several similar burials, without elaborating on the circumstances of its members' deaths.
Lebanon's opposition March 14 movement and Syrian rebels have frequently accused Hezbollah of aiding the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad militarily.
Speaking to AFP by telephone, a Syrian rebel commander in the central province of Homs who identified himself only as Abu Moayed said: "The commander known as Abu Abbas and two of his escorts were killed by a home-made landmine near Qusayr," a rebel-held, besieged town, located in the province.
The rebels laid home-made landmines near a large army checkpoint in the area, said Abu Moayed, after they heard a senior army convoy would be arriving there late last week.
"The Syrian army and security checkpoint at Zaraa was preventing us from smuggling in supplies and smuggling out the wounded," said Abu Moayed, adding that the rebels did not as such intend to specifically target Hezbollah officials.
"A Syrian army official who has not defected but who is collaborating with the (rebel) Free Syrian Army informed us, after our operation, that among those killed were three Hezbollah members, including the commander," he added.
It was impossible to independently verify the reports, and several Hezbollah officials contacted by AFP did not comment.
Under Syrian military and political domination for almost 30 years, Lebanon is politically divided over the Syrian revolt.
Hezbollah, which is allied to Iran, backs Assad's regime, while the pro-Western March 14 movement supports the revolt.