July 23rd, 2024

Israeli strike in Syria kills former bodyguard of Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader

By Bassem Mroue, The Associated Press on July 9, 2024.

BEIRUT (AP) – An Israeli strike in Syria Tuesday killed a former personal bodyguard of Hezbollah leader, an official with the Lebanese militant group said.

The news comes hours after an Israeli drone strike on a car in Syria near the Syria-Lebanon border was reported by a war monitor and by pro-government radio Sham FM. The Hezbollah official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

The Britain-based pro-opposition war monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said two members of Hezbollah were in the car were killed in the strike, while a Syrian driver is critically wounded. There was no immediate comment from Syrian authorities or from the Israeli military.

Hezbollah later identified the militant as Yasser Nemr Qranbish, though it did not disclose the details of his death as they normally do with combatants who aren’t in leadership roles.

Supporters of the group on social media mourned his death, calling him the “shield of the Sayyed”, in reference to his tenure as a bodyguard of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

Since October, Israeli airstrikes on Lebanon have killed over 450 people, most of them Hezbollah fighters, but the dead also include more than 80 civilians and non-combatants. On the Israeli side, 17 soldiers and 11 civilians have been killed since the war in Gaza began. Tens of thousands of people on both sides of the tense frontier have been displaced in the monthslong war.

Israel for years has frequently launches strikes on Iran-linked targets in Syria but rarely acknowledges them. The strikes have escalated over the past five months against the backdrop of the war in Gaza and ongoing clashes between Hezbollah and Israeli forces on the Lebanon-Israel border.

Hezbollah launched rockets on northern Israel a day after a Hamas surprise attack on southern Israel on October 7, leading to limited clashes along the tense border.

The attacks have since gradually escalated, with Hezbollah introducing new weapons in their attacks and Israel striking deeper into Lebanon. The group maintains that it will stop its attacks once there is a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

Associated Press writer Kareem Chehayeb in Beirut contributed to this report.

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