Photo Credit: screenshot / Al Manar TV
Mustafa Badreddine, senior commander of Hezbollah assassinated in Damascus in May 2016.

The Hezbollah terrorist organization has backed away from blaming Israel for the assassination last week of its senior commander — possibly its Number Two — Mustafa Badreddine in Damascus.

His death was announced Friday on the group’s Al Manar channel by Hezbollah, although it is believed he may have been killed as early as last Tuesday. It is not clear who killed Badreddine.

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Hezbollah said in an announcement Saturday on Al Manar the explosion “which targeted one of our positions near the Damascus International Airport and led to the martyrdom of Sayyed Zulfikar, the marty leader’s nom de guerre, was caused by an artillery bombardment carried out by Takfiri groups stationed in the region. The group had said in a statement early Friday that a huge blast hit one of the “resistance centers” near Damascus airport.

Badreddine — also known as Badr A-Din — had replaced his brother-in-law Imad Mughniyeh (Moughniyah), who was killed in Damascus in 2008 by a car bomb, for which the Mossad was blamed. Badreddine, 55, was in charge of all Hezbollah military operations inside Syria, and before that was involved in planning attacks against Israel. He was also blamed by the United Nations for the murder of Lebanon’s former prime minister, Rafik al-Hariri, in 2005.

““The outcome of the investigation will only increase our determination and will to continue the fight against these criminal gangs and deal them a mighty blow so that we fulfil the martyr’s wishes and advices to his Mujahideen brothers,” the statement by Nasrallah continued.

“In all cases, it is a single battle against the American-Zionist project in the region, which terrorist Takfiris represent its spearhead thus practicing its aggression over the Ummah (nation) and its resistance, Mujahideen, sanctuaries and its free, honest peoples.”

Iran has been taking great pains to console its proxy terror group Hezbollah over the loss of its senior commander.

Likewise, Hezbollah is working hard to minimize attention to the forces behind the assassination. Despite the initial hue and cry that pointed the finger of blame at Israel, the follow up in Hezbollah-linked media clearly toned down the speculation and accusations.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sent a message of condolence Friday to Nasrallah over the assassination. In the message, he wrote that Badreddine’s martyrdom would “further strengthen resistance forces against the Zionist enemy and terrorism.”

The Speaker of Iran’s Majlis (parliament), Ali Larijani, also sent condolences, saying Badreddine’s martyrdom would “further inspire resistance against the Zionist regime.” Larijani added in his message to Nasrallah that it would “strengthen the will of the Jihadi forces against the Zionist regime.”

The head of Lebanon’s ‘Free Patriotic Movement,’ General Michel Aoun also phoned Nasrallah with condolences over the loss of his senior commander.

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