Hezbollah says Israeli airstrikes did not kill top military commander

(JTA) – Hezbollah said the airstrike that killed its top military commander was by Sunni Islamists, refuting reports that Israel was the perpetrator.

“Investigations have showed 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,” Hezbollah said in a statement on Saturday, according to Reuters.

“Takfiri” is a word used by the group to refer to armed Sunni groups.

A military funeral was held for Badreddine on Friday, Al-Jazeera reported.

Some news outlets had reported that it was an Israeli airstrike that took out Badreddine

Thousands of Hezbollah troops are fighting in Syria’s long-running civil war on behalf of President Bashar Assad. Badreddine reportedly had run all of Hezbollah’s military operations in Syria since 2011.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said there had been no recorded shelling or firing in the area for more than a week. Hezbollah has not said when Badreddine actually died.

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