Blast kills Hezbol­lah ....

Pakistan Observer - - IN­TER­NA­TIONAL -

of col­lapse.

A six-day-old cease­fire in bat­tle­ground sec­ond city Aleppo ex­pired early Thurs­day with­out re­newal and rebel sniper fire on the gov­ern­ment-held sec­tor of the city killed two civil­ians, one of them a woman, a mon­i­tor­ing group said.

Heavy air strikes pounded Al-Qaeda’s Syr­ian af­fil­i­ate Al-Nusra Front in its Idlib prov­ince strong­hold in the north­west, killing 16 of its fight­ers, in­clud­ing a se­nior com­man­der.

Badred­dine had been a key player in Hezbol­lah’s mil­i­tary wing vir­tu­ally since its in­cep­tion. He was on a US ter­ror sanc­tions black­list, was a key sus­pect in the 2005 as­sas­si­na­tion in Beirut of for­mer Le­banese prime min­is­ter Rafiq Hariri, and was one of Is­rael’s most wanted men.

The Shi­ite mil­i­tant group, which now dom­i­nates Le­banon’s gov­ern­ment, did not spec­ify which of Badred­dine’s many en­e­mies it held re­spon­si­ble for his death.

“Ac­cord­ing to pre­lim­i­nary re­ports, a large ex­plo­sion tar­geted one of our po­si­tions near Da­m­as­cus in­ter­na­tional air­port killing brother com­man­der Mustafa Badred­dine and wound­ing other peo­ple,” it said in a state­ment.

“We are go­ing to pur­sue an in­quiry to de­ter­mine the na­ture and causes of the ex­plo­sion and as­cer­tain whether it was the re­sult of an air strike, a mis­sile or ar­tillery fire.”

Da­m­as­cus air­port lies to the east of the cap­i­tal where var­i­ous rebel groups have a strong pres­ence in the coun­try­side, al­though pro-gov­ern­ment forces have se­cured the high­way to it for the past two years or more.

Badred­dine’s pre­de­ces­sor, Imad Mugh­niyeh, his cousin and brother-in-law, was killed in Da­m­as­cus in 2008 in an at­tack that drew im­me­di­ate threats by Hezbol­lah of heavy re­tal­i­a­tion against Is­rael.

It made no such Badred­dine’s death.

Is­rael made no com­ment, as it did in 2008 too, but Is­raeli me­dia un­der­lined Hezbol­lah’s fail­ure to point the fin­ger.

In its 2012 ter­ror black­list­ing of Badred­dine, Wash­ing­ton charged that he was the key point­man for Hezbol­lah’s op­er­a­tions in Syria along­side ma­jor for­eign backer Iran in sup­port of As­sad’s regime.

“Badred­dine is as­sessed to be re­spon­si­ble for Hezbol­lah’s mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions in Syria since 2011,” the US Trea­sury De­part­ment said, adding that he li­aised per­son­ally with As­sad.

His funeral was to be held in Hezbol­lah’s strong­hold in the south­ern sub­urbs of Beirut at 5:30 pm (1430 GMT), the move­ment an­nounced.

Hezbol­lah’s in­ter­ven­tion was vi­tal in shoring up As­sad’s regime at its low­est point in the war against rebels backed by Gulf Arab and Western coun­tries.

Its fight­ers se­cured most of the Le­banese bor­der re­gion, cut­ting vi­tal rebel sup­ply lines, and re­asserted gov­ern­ment con­trol in most of the south­ern sub­urbs of Da­m­as­cus, in­clud­ing the Sayyida Zeinab Shi­ite shrine district, revered by Hezbol­lah’s fol­low­ers and by its Ira­nian back­ers.

The in­ter­ven­tion of Moscow in Septem­ber last year in sup­port of its Da­m­as­cus ally has sharply ex­panded the mil­i­tary coali­tion threats af­ter back­ing it.

Rus­sian of­fi­cials have vowed to work closely with their US coun­ter­parts to sal­vage a Fe­bru­ary cease­fire be­tween pro-gov­ern­ment forces and non-ji­hadist rebels but it was tee­ter­ing on the brink on Fri­day af­ter the col­lapse of the Aleppo truce.

That deal had sharply re­duced a surge in the fight­ing in Syria’s pre-war com­mer­cial cap­i­tal that had killed more than 300 civil­ians.

Al-Qaeda, like the Is­lamic State group which con­trols much of east­ern Syria, was never party to the truce and more than 60 air strikes on Thurs­day tar­geted the Abu Duhur air­base in an area of Idlib prov­ince it con­trols, the Bri­tain-based Syr­ian Ob­ser­va­tory for Hu­man Rights mon­i­tor­ing group said.

It was un­clear whether those strikes were car­ried out by the Syr­ian air force, Rus­sian war­planes or air­craft of the US-led coali­tion, all of which have struck Al-Qaeda in Syria in the past. Al-Qaeda fight­ers and their al­lies shot dead 19 civil­ians from As­sad’s Alaw­ite mi­nor­ity in their own homes af­ter seiz­ing their vil­lage in cen­tral Syria on Thurs­day, the Ob­ser­va­tory said.

The Alaw­ites — fol­low­ers of an off­shoot of Shi­ite Is­lam who are mainly con­cen­trated in the Mediter­ranean coastal prov­inces of Latakia and Tar­tus — are de­spised as heretics by the Sunni ex­trem­ists of AlQaeda.

Bel­gium, reel­ing from deadly ji­hadist at­tacks in Brus­sels in March, an­nounced that it would join the coali­tion air war against Al-Qaeda and the Is­lamic State group in Syria, as well as Iraq, from July.—AFP

TIANG­ING: Qa­mar Za­man Chaudhry, Chair­man NAB pre­sent­ing a sou­venir to Tan Sri Abu Kas­sim Mo­hamed, Chief Com­mis­sioner of Malaysian Anti-Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion af­ter con­fer­ence of In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Anti-Cor­rup­tion Au­thor­i­ties.

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