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Top Hezbollah military commander killed in Syria

Mustafa Badreddine, a top Hezbollah commander, has been killed in Syria, the militant Lebanese group announced. He was responsible for Hezbollah's forces in Syria.

Announcing the death of Mustafa Badreddine, one of its military commanders, Hezbollah said in a statement that "the great jihadi leader" had been killed fighting in Syria.

The Shiite group said in a statement it was working to "define the nature of the explosion and its cause, and whether it was the result of an air strike, or missile [attack] or artillery."

Al-Mayadeen TV, which is close to the group, said he was killed in an Israeli airstrike on Tuesday night. Hezbollah has not commented on when Badreddine died. Israel has struck targets in Syria during that country's five-year war but has not confirmed it had a role in Badreddine's death.

Badreddine was responsible for Hezbollah's military operations in Syria, where the group is a major backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He became the group's top commander in 2008 after his predecessor, Imad Mughniyeh, was killed in a suspected Israeli car bomb assassination in Damascus.

The 55-year-old was one of five suspects accused by a UN tribunal of playing a role in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, which also killed another 22 people. The trial began last year and is ongoing.

The US Treasury placed sanctions on Badreddine along with a number of others in Hezbollah's leadership in 2012, for the movement's support of Assad's regime as well as its role in terrorist activities."

The United States and European Union regard Hezbollah's military wing as a terrorist group.

cw/sms (AFP, AP, Reuters)