Israeli army says Hezbollah commander killed by own men
NETANYA - Israel's military chief said Tuesday that Hezbollah's military commander in Syria reported dead last year was killed by members of his own Lebanese Shiite group.
Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, speaking to a security conference, said intelligence gathered had led Israel to the conclusion and matched previous reports.
Hezbollah itself has said Mustafa Badreddine, who was on a US terror sanctions blacklist and wanted by Israel, was killed in an explosion in May 2016 near Damascus international airport.
A probe had concluded that Sunni Islamist radicals known as "takfiris", who consider Shiites to be heretics, had killed Badreddine, according to Hezbollah.
Eisenkot said Israel "believes that he was killed by his own officers".
"Those findings show to what degree relations between Hezbollah and its patron Iran are tense and complex," he said.
Hezbollah has deployed thousands of fighters in Syria, where Badreddine had led its intervention in support of President Bashar al-Assad's forces, which are also backed by Russia and Iran.
The Shiite movement has said Badreddine was killed by artillery bombardment of one of its positions near Damascus airport.
It did not name any specific Islamist group and there has been no claim of responsibility for the killing.
Badreddine was a key suspect in the 2005 assassination in Beirut of Lebanese ex-premier Rafiq Hariri. His predecessor, cousin and brother-in-law Imad Mughniyeh, was killed in Damascus in a 2008 bombing that Hezbollah blamed on Israel.