Hezbollah’s Syria chief was assassinated by his own men, and not by Israel, the head of Israel’s army said on Tuesday, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
Mustafa Badreddine was killed in an explosion in the Syrian capital in May 2016. The circumstances of his death have been disputed, with different reports blaming Israeli forces or opposition factions.
Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot told an academic conference in Netanya that Israel’s intelligence accorded with reports that Badreddine had been killed by his own men.
Haaretz quoted Eisenkot as saying that the killing "indicates the depth of the internal crisis within Hezbollah," and "the extent of the cruelty, complexity and tension between Hezbollah and its patron Iran."
Badreddine’s killing was not the first of a senior Hezbollah member in Syria. In 2008 Hezbollah’s global operations chief Imad Mughniyeh was assassinated in Damascus, which some reports attributed to a joint CIA-Mossad operation.
Mughniyeh’s son, Jihad, was also killed in what was reported to be an Israeli strike on 18 January 2015.
The US Treasury Department sanctioned Badreddine in July 2015, saying that he had been responsible for Hezbollah’s Syria operations since 2011.
The Lebanese militia group has been fighting in Syria in support of the government of President Bashar al-Assad.