BAALBAK, Lebanon – A senior member of Hezbollah blamed groups sympathetic to Syria’s rebels for the assassination early Wednesday of a top Hezbollah military commander as the commander was returning home from work.
Hassan al-Laqis was shot repeatedly in the head and neck with small-caliber pistols, apparently equipped with silencers, in a southern Beirut neighborhood, according to Lebanese security officials and Hezbollah members.
The Lebanon-based militant group initially accused Israel in the killing – a charge that country denied – but speaking at al-Laqis’ funeral in the afternoon, Sheikh Mohammed Yazbek, a senior Hezbollah official, linked the assassination to recent attacks that Hezbollah and Lebanese government officials have pinned on Syrian rebels and their Sunni Muslim supporters.
What steps Hezbollah might take in response to the killing weren’t immediately clear. The assassination was the latest in spiraling violence in Lebanon tied to the civil war in Syria, where Hezbollah fighters have assumed a key supporting role in backing the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.