BEIRUT: Abbas Mohammed Taha, a Hezbollah fighter, was buried in the Shiite stronghold of Baalbeck Friday. Taha is the third fighter from the Iran-backed group to have died over the last week, since the start of Syria’s deadliest battle. On Jan. 24, Hezbollah’s Jaafar al-Sadek Harb, a field commander, was buried in a south Lebanon town after being killed in Syria.
A statement from the group said that “Hezbollah and the residents of [Nabatieh’s] Harouf held a ceremony to honor the death of Jaafar al-Sadek Harb, who died while carrying out his holy duty.”
Days later another fighter returned in a coffin.
A Hezbollah source confirmed that three fighters had died, but only two were killed. The third fighter suffered a heart attack.
Taha Friday was honored with “martyrdom” during his funeral in the east Bekaa Valley town.
The three men all died as a result of an ambush by militants from Jabhat Fatah al-Sham - previously known as the Nusra Front - near Maaret al-Numan, an urban center that straddles the M5 international highway linking the capital Damascus to Aleppo. The highway is considered vital for trade.
The party is fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad in Syria. Hezbollah publicly acknowledged the deployment in 2013. On the ground, Hezbollah’s fighters have proven to be among the most effective and efficient, spearheading many major battles.
Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah previously said that militants belonging to Daesh (ISIS) and Jabhat Fatah al-Sham had been some of the most difficult adversaries.
Moscow and Damascus say they are fighting militants who have stepped up attacks on civilians in Aleppo in northern Syria, but rights groups and rescue workers say airstrikes have demolished hospitals, schools and hit other civilian areas.
In a significant milestone for Assad’s stated drive to reclaim all of Syria, government forces Tuesday took Maaret al-Numan, which is Idlib’s second biggest city. - With Reuters