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Israeli–Lebanese conflict


Al-Qaeda’s chief in Lebanon, Majid al-Majid, has died in custody in a Beirut hospital, Lebanese army announces.

The Saudi, who led the Abdullah Azzam Brigades and was on Saudi Arabia’s most-wanted-terrorists list, was arrested in Lebanon recently.

An army general told Associated Press the militant died of kidney failure.

The group has carried out attacks across the Middle East and claimed a bomb attack on Iran’s Beirut embassy in November that killed 23 people.

The Iranian cultural attaché was among the dead.

A Lebanese army statement said Majid al-Majid died in a military hospital in Beirut on Saturday, as he was receiving medical treatment.

Security sources said he had gone into a coma suffering from kidney failure.

Majid al-Majid led the Abdullah Azzam Brigades and was on Saudi Arabia's most-wanted-terrorists list

Majid al-Majid led the Abdullah Azzam Brigades and was on Saudi Arabia’s most-wanted-terrorists list

He was believed to have required dialysis for the condition.

It was only on Friday that the Lebanese authorities said that DNA tests had confirmed his identity.

Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn earlier confirmed the commander was being held by army intelligence in Beirut and was “being interrogated in secret”. He refused to say when and how the arrest took place.

However, a Lebanese security source told the Reuters news agency that he had been captured with another Saudi militant and had been living in the southern city of Sidon.

Majid al-Majid had led the Brigades since 2012.

Based in both Lebanon and the Arabian Peninsula, the group is named after a Palestinian jihadist ideologue who recruited mujahideen for the fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

The group has attracted hardline Islamist militants who fought in the Iraqi insurgency and has based itself in the Ein el-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp, near Sidon.

The US designated the group a terrorist organization in 2012, freezing its assets.

November’s Iranian embassy bombing was believed to be its first major attack.

Iran and the Hezbollah militant group are allied with the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Media reports said Majid al-Majid had pledged allegiance to the leader of the al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate seeking to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.

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Hassan Lakkis, a senior commander of the Lebanese Shia militant group Hezbollah, has been killed near Beirut, the group says.

Hassan Lakkis was “assassinated” near his home in Hadath – 4.3 miles south-east of the Lebanese capital, Hezbollah TV channel Al-Manar said.

Hezbollah blamed Israel for his death but Israel denies the accusation.

Little is known publicly about Hassan Lakkis, but he was reputedly close to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

The news comes a day after Hassan Nasrallah said Saudi Arabia was behind last month’s bombings outside the Iranian embassy in Beirut.

Iran is a major backer of Hezbollah, which has sent fighters to Syria to back the government of Bashar al-Assad.

Hassan Lakkis was reputedly close to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah

Hassan Lakkis was reputedly close to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah

The conflict in Syria has increased sectarian tensions in its smaller neighbor.

A statement issued by Hezbollah on Wednesday said Hassan Lakkis was killed as he returned home from work around midnight.

The group said Israel had tried to kill him several times previously, but had failed.

Lebanese security officials said assailants lying in wait opened fire on Hassan Lakkis with an assault rifle while he was in his car, according to the Associated Press news agency.

He was attacked in the car park of the building where he lived and was taken to a nearby hospital but died early Wednesday, the unnamed officials were quoted as saying.

Israel denied any involvement in the death.

“These automatic accusations are an innate reflex with Hezbollah,” Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said.

“They don’t need evidence, they don’t need facts. They just blame anything on Israel.”

Hezbollah – or the Party of God – is a powerful political and military organization in Lebanon made up mainly of Shia Muslims.

The organization emerged with financial backing from Iran in the early 1980s and began a struggle to drive Israeli troops from Lebanon.

Hezbollah fought a destructive 34-day war with Israel following the capture of two Israeli soldiers in 2006.

The group said that one of Hassan Lakkis’s sons had been killed fighting Israel in the 2006 conflict.