Hezbollah commander 'killed' in Iraq

Four sources in Lebanon named the Hezbollah commander as Ibrahim al-Haj, a technical specialist involved in training.

Hezbollah commander 'killed' in Iraq

World Bulletin / News Desk

A Hezbollah commander has died during a mission in Iraq, sources familiar with the incident said on Wednesday, indicating the Lebanese group that is already fighting in Syria's civil war may be involved in a second conflict in the region.

Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Shi'ite Muslim group, has not previously announced any role in the conflict in Iraq, which escalated last month when radical Sunni militants seized large areas of territory from the Shi'ite-led government in Baghdad.

Four sources in Lebanon named the Hezbollah commander as Ibrahim al-Haj, a technical specialist involved in training. They said he was "martyred" in a battle near Mosul, a city in northern Iraq seized from government control last month by an al Qaeda offshoot known as the Islamic State.

His funeral was held on Wednesday in the village of Qilya in the Bekaa Valley. A Hezbollah official contacted by Reuters declined to comment.

Hezbollah's deployment in Syria has helped President Bashar al-Assad's government firm up its grip on power by reestablishing control over a strategic corridor of territory stretching north from Damascus. The group says it is fighting in Syria against the threat posed by Sunni Muslim fighters.

Assad is an ally of Iran and a member of the Alawite sect that is an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam. Tehran also has longstanding ties to Shi'ite politicians in Iraq.

Hezbollah was founded with Iranian help in the early 1980s and fought to drive out Israeli forces that occupied southern Lebanon until 2000. The most powerful group in Lebanon, it also resisted an Israeli attack in 2006.


Iraqi Shi'ite militia forces executed 15 Sunni Muslims and then hung them from electricity poles in a public square in the town of Baquba, northeast of Baghdad, on Wednesday, police said.

With Iraq sliding ever closer to all-out sectarian civil war, a car bomb exploded near restaurants and shops in the capital's Shi'ite district of Sadr City, killing 16 people, while another car bomb killed five in Baghdad's Ameen district, police said.

A police officer at the scene in Baquba, a mixed Sunni and Shi'ite town 65 km (40 miles) from Baghdad, said he believed the gruesome display of the bodies was designed to warn Sunnis off supporting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), an al Qaeda offshoot that has seized swathes of land in an advance through northern Iraq.

The victims, who had been kidnapped over the last week, were shot in the head and chest and then hung up by cables.

"The militia forces are preventing the medical crew from taking down the bodies," the police officer said.

"They are following a new tactic of keeping bodies hanging for a longer time to deter the Sunni population from backing the Islamic State. We asked them to let us evacuate the bodies but they refused."

On the battlefield, Shi'ite militias have stepped in to challenge the Sunni fighters after Iraq's top cleric called on his compatriots to take up arms against the ISIL.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 31 Temmuz 2014, 09:45