A Hezbollah commander was martyred in the early hours of Wednesday morning outside his home south of Beirut, in an assassination the Lebanese group said Israel would bear full responsibility for.
“Hajj Hassan Hawlo al-Lakkis, a leader of the Islamic Resistance [Hezbollah], was assassinated outside his house in St. Therese, Hadath, as he returned from work last night,” Hezbollah said in a statement.
A high-ranking security official told The Daily Star that at least one unidentified gunman, using a 9-mm silenced gun, shot and wounded Lakkis in the head and the neck five times outside him home in Hadath.
Lakkis was parked in his green Cherokee in Bloc A of residential complex 1660 in the St. Therese neighborhood at the time of the shooting, the official added.
In critical condition, the Hezbollah commander was rushed around midnight to the nearby Rasoul Aazam hospital where he died from his wounds at around 3 a.m., the official added.
Hezbollah blamed Israel for the assassination and said it “should bear full responsibility and all the consequences of this heinous crime and its repeated targeting of dear resistance leaders and cadres."
The statement said Israel had tried to assassinate Lakkis on several previous occasions.
"The Israeli enemy tried to kill Lakkis many times ... but its attempts failed until this foul assassination overnight," Hezbollah said.
The security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said a probe has been launched, adding that police are examining the serial number on the bullet casings to identify the manufacturer.
Hezbollah officials have been targets of assassination in the past. Top Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh was assassinated by a car bomb near the Syrian capital in February 2008. Hezbollah held Israel responsible for Mughniyeh’s killing.
Hezbollah described Lakkis as “a Mujahid, self-sacrificing and a leader who loved martyrdom.”
“He spent all his youth with the honorable resistance – since its early days until the final hour,” it said.
It said Lakkis’ son was killed during the August- July 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah.
Lakkis’ funeral service will be held in Baalbek, east Lebanon, at 2 p.m.
Iran condemns killing of commander
Meanwhile, Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon condemned Wednesday the killing of a high-ranking Hezbollah commander earlier during the day and said such a “cowardly act” would not prevent the resistance from fighting Israel, AFP reported.
“I offer my condolences... over the martyrdom of brother Hassan Lakkis who had a long history of teaching the Zionist enemy harsh lessons in humiliation and whose actions were heroic acts in the face of [Israel],” Iran’s envoy Ghazanfar Roknabadi said in a message to Nasrallah.
“While we adjoin this heroic martyr to the convoy of martyrs who sacrificed their lives to serve their nation and its sacred cause, mainly the Palestinian cause, we believe that these cowardly acts by the Zionist enemy and its agents would only make the resistance more determined to achieve its goals of eliminating [Israel] from existence,” he added.
Speaker of Lebanese Parliament Nabih Berri said Wednesday the assassination of a Hezbollah commander in Beirut bore the hallmarks of Israel.
“The manner of the assassination is that adopted by Israel,” Berri told visitors during his weekly meeting with MPs, according to a statement from his office published by the National News Agency.
He also called for “vigilance at this stage because the enemy [Israel] is lurking among us all.”
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