A top military commander of Lebanese militant group Hezbollah has been killed in Syria, the group announced.

Amine Badreddine, who was killed in artillery fire by jihadists near the Damascus airport, is understood to have run all of Hezbollah’s military operations in Syria since 2011.

Without naming a particular group, Hezbollah’s statement claimed Badreddine was killed by jihadists. “Investigations have shown that the explosion, which targeted one of our bases near Damascus International airport, and which led to the martyrdom of commander Mustafa Badreddine, was the result of artillery bombardment carried out by takfiri groups in the area,” said the group.

The Tehran-backed Shia group has been fighting alongside government forces in Syria as the war stretches into its fifth year.

Hezbollah is a strong political and military force within Lebanon and plays a major role in the 8 March alliance. The main players of the 8 March alliance are Hezbollah, led by Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah; the Free Patriotic Movement (Maronite Christians led by Michel Aoun); and Lebanon’s second-largest Shia group, the Amal Movement. The coalition has close ties with Iran and Syria.

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