Mustafa Badreddine, a Hezbollah commander who led their operations in Syria and was accused of planning multiple large-scale terror attacks, was killed in a bomb blast, the Iran-backed terror organization confirmed Friday.
Badreddine was killed in an explosion near the Damascus airport that also injured several other people, Hezbollah officials said on Al Manar, their TV station. The exact date and nature of the explosion were not revealed.
Hezbollah and other Iran-backed Shiite militias have been crucial in propping up Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, who has long allowed Hezbollah to transfer weapons through his country to use against Israel.
It isn’t clear who killed Badreddine. The respected Israeli military analyst Ron Ben-Yishai wrote on Ynet that he doubted Israel was responsible, since Badreddine “was more of a threat to the rebels in Syria and Lebanon than he was to Israel….that is why it can be assumed with much certainty that the background to his assassination was internal Lebanese conflicts.”
Badreddine’s death comes at a time when Hezbollah’s reputation in the Levant has been severely damaged by its intervention in civil wars in Yemen and Syria, fighting against Sunnis, rather than concentrated on its stated goal of destroying Israel.
Known as an explosive expert, Badreddine was suspected in involvement in a number of high profile terror attacks over the past thirty years. Badreddine is believed to have planned the 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Beirut alongside his brother-in-law, Imad Mughniyeh. He was later arrested for his involvement in deadly blasts at the American and French embassies in Kuwait in 1983 and sentenced to death. He fled prison when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1991.
In the 1990s, he commanded Unit 1800, which launched terror attacks against Israel from the West Bank and Gaza. In the following decade, he coordinated unit 2800 a group that targeted American, British, and Sunni forces in Iraq. An international tribunal tried Badreddine and three others in absentia for the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri and 21 others.
He was recently believed to have been in charge of all of Hezbollah’s activities in Syria.
Mughniyeh was killed in a bomb blast in Damascus in 2008, believed to have been planned by Israel. Mughniyeh’s son Jihad, along with a general from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and other Hezbollah officials, were killed in an airstrike last year as they were planning operations against Israel from the Syrian Golan Heights. Another high-ranking Hezbollah terrorist, Samir Kuntar, was killed by an airstrike in Damascus last December.
[Photo: CCTV News / YouTube ]