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Hezbollah commander killed in Beirut

Beirut, Dec 5 (): A Hezbollah commander was assassinated overnight Wednesday in front of his home south of Beirut, according to Lebanese security officials and Hezbollah members.

Hassan al Laqis, who was killed in an exclusively professional assassination, was a veteran Hezbollah military leader and described by Western intelligence as a ‘brilliant mind.’ Little is known publicly about Lakkis, but he was supposedly close to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and an expert in weapons manufacturing.

Hezbollah fighters have been involved in helping Syrian government forces cut off supply lines to the rebels and regain control of key places like the border town of Qusair and the Khalidiya district in the city of Homs.

The leader was shot repeatedly in the neck and head with small-caliber pistols, apparently equipped with silencers, in a southern Beirut neighbourhood, according to Lebanese security officials and Hezbollah members. In a critical condition, the commander was rushed to the nearby Rasoul Aazam hospital around midnight where he succumbed to his wounds at around 3 a.m., the official added.

Laqis was buried later Thursday in his hometown of Baalbek in eastern Lebanon. A few thousand people took part in the funeral under pouring rain and women wept as Hezbollah was carried in a coffin, wrapped in the group’s yellow flag, through the streets of Baalbek. Hezbollah fighters fired in the air in mourning.

Hezbollah has fought many wars against Israel. Laqis’ son, Ali, died fighting Israel in the month-long 2006 war. Israel’s spy service has been suspected of assassinating Hezbollah commanders for more than two decades.

The Lebanon-based militant group at first blamed Israel in the killing – Israel, which fought a 34-day war with Hezbollah in 2006, denied any involvement – but speaking at the funeral of Laqis in the afternoon, Sheikh Mohammed Yazbek, a senior Hezbollah official, linked the assassination to recent attacks that Hezbollah and Lebanese government officials have held on Syrian rebels and their Sunni Muslim supporters.