BEIRUT: A senior Hezbollah commander who was on the FBI’s most wanted list was killed in Syria, a Twitter account affiliated with the party said.
The Mouqawama Twitter account posted Monday night a photo of Fawzi Ayoub, also known as Abu Abbas, praying in military fatigues with the caption: “The land of the Levant has been watered with the noblest blood.”
“We are proud that our commanders are among American intelligence’s top most wanted,” the Hezbollah-linked account said.
“If this proves anything, it is that we are on the path of righteousness in the face of the greatest force for evil in the world.”
Ayoub is wanted by the FBI for allegedly forging an American passport and using it to try to enter Israel in order to carry out a bombing on behalf of Hezbollah.
Security sources told Reuters that Ayoub was killed by predominantly Sunni rebel forces in Nawa, a town in the southern Syrian province of Deraa, the cradle of the Syrian uprising-turned-war in which 160,000 people have been killed.
Ayoub, who is from the southern village of Ain Qana, was arrested in the West Bank in 2000 and spent four years in an Israeli jail before being released as part of a prisoner swap, the sources told Reuters. He also holds Canadian citizenship and has lived in the United States.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an anti-regime monitoring group, said in a post on Facebook that a military commander and fighters loyal to the regime of President Bashar Assad were killed in an ambush by Islamist fighters Monday night near Busra al-Sham, a town in Deraa, without identifying the military official.
The group said a number of individuals were wounded in an artillery attack on the commander’s funeral Tuesday.
Hezbollah is fighting alongside forces loyal to Syria’s embattled president against rebels trying to overthrow his rule. The party says the uprising is dominated by “takfiris,” a catch-all term for Sunni rebels, and argues that it is protecting Lebanon from the threat of jihadists entering the country through Syria.
The party has been instrumental in regime victories on the border with Lebanon in the towns of Yabroud and Qusair.
Ayoub’s killing comes amid news of three other deaths among party cadres, including two in Syria.
Media reports said a Hezbollah suspect indicted in the attempted assassination of Telecoms Minister Boutros Harb was killed in Syria.
The reports said Mahmoud Hayek, wanted by the Lebanese authorities, was killed while fighting alongside regime troops. The Daily Star could not confirm the claims.
Harb told a local television channel he had not received official information confirming Hayek’s death.
Hayek, who hails from the Nabatieh village of Adchit, was indicted in February 2013 for attempting to kill Harb, but his whereabouts remained unknown.
He was charged with carrying out acts of terror after planting a bomb in the elevator of the building that houses Harb’s office in Beirut’s Badaro neighborhood.
Hezbollah refused to hand over Hayek after he was implicated in the case.
Meanwhile, Hezbollah members paid their respects at a funeral in the Mount Lebanon village of Maaysra for Qusai Ali Amro, a fighter who was killed in Syria.
An AFP photograph showed fighters carrying Hezbollah flags standing in front of Amro’s flower-covered coffin east of the coastal city of Byblos Monday.
Hezbollah also announced the death of Mustafa Qassir, an official in the party’s Central Council, after a two-year illness.
The party said Qassir was buried at his southern hometown of Deir Qanoon al-Nahr. The official, who died Monday, was instrumental in the party’s educational institutions.