BEIRUT: The Free Syrian Army claimed responsibility for the death of a Hezbollah commander reportedly killed in Syria in remarks published in a Saudi newspaper Wednesday.
“Members of the FSA ambushed Ali Hussein Nassif, also known as Abu Abbas, with an explosive device that killed him and two of his bodyguards in Al Qusayr area in Homs,” FSA commander Col. Riad al-Asaad told Okaz newspaper.
An AP report Tuesday quoted a Lebanese security official saying that Nassif and several Hezbollah fighters had been killed in Syria.
Hezbollah spokesman Ibrahim Moussawi confirmed the deaths of the Hezbollah members but said he had no further information on where or how Nassif was killed.
According to Asaad, the FSA had planned the operation for two weeks.
“Members of the FSA tracked Abu Abbas for days until they were able to kill him while he was on his way to one of Hezbollah and [President Bashar] Asaad's forces’ gatherings in the region,” Asaad said.
The FSA commander also vowed to conduct more attacks against Iranian and Hezbollah elements allegedly participating in the clashes in Syria.
“Anyone who supports the Assad regime is a partner in crime and deserves punishment,” he said.
He said more than 300 people affiliated to Iran and Hezbollah had already been killed in Qusayr.
Hezbollah, the primary ally of Syria and Iran in Lebanon, has long been accused by Syrian rebels of providing help to Bashar Assad and sending its fighters to support the regime forces in the war-torn country. However, the group has repeatedly denied such accusations.
A broadcast on Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV Tuesday showed footage of the funeral held for the party commander in the eastern town of Budai, near Baalbek, in the presence of high ranking Hezbollah officials. The same day Al-Manar TV also aired what it said were the funerals of at least two other Hezbollah members killed while performing their “jihadi duty.”