Hezbollah Commander Killed in Syria.

Family members in Beirut mourn the death of senior Hezbollah figure Mustafa Badredinne who was killed by an Israeli Airstrike near Damascus yesterday.
Family members in Beirut mourn the death of senior Hezbollah figure Mustafa Badredinne who was killed by an Israeli Airstrike near Damascus yesterday. (Source)

Updated May 14th, 2016.

Hezbollah Claim Badredinne Died in Insurgent Artillery Strike.

Hezbollah are now claiming that the death of Mustafa Badredinne was caused by insurgent artillery.

Hezbollah’s Investigations: Takfiri Artillery Shelling Killed Martyr Badreddine

This claim may be correct or it may be the expedient explanation at the current time. The artillery attribution does not fit with the witness reports of a single large explosion rather than a description of a barrage as would generally be the case with artillery.

It is also puzzling that there were reports from a previously reliable source of an Israeli airstrike against a Hezbollah target in Syria before Mustafa Badredinne’s death was announced so I reserve judgement and assume the truth will emerge in the future but while it is theoretically possible, the chances of the Hezbollah commander in Syria, operating away from front line positions being randomly killed in a lucky artillery strike seem highly remote.

May 13th, 2016.

Hezbollah Commander Slain in Alleged Israeli Airstrike near Damascus.

In a devastating psychological blow to the forces allied with the Syrian Government an Israeli airstrike in the area near the Damascus International Airport has killed Mustafa Badreddine, a senior figure in Hezbollah, the Lebanese (largely) Shia militia fighting alongside the Syrian government forces in the Syrian war. Badreddine is said to have been 55 years of age and to be brother in law of the legendary and infamous Hezbollah figure Imad Mugniyah, also assassinated in Damascus under very different circumstances in 2008.

Mustafa Badredinne is claimed to have been commander of Hezbollah in Syria where the group have played a key role in support of the Government since 2012..

Leading Hezbollah commander killed by Israeli military

Top Hezbollah Commander Mustafa Amine Badreddine Killed in Syria

The details of the attack are still unclear with some reports mentioning a large explosion without specifying the means of delivery but all logic suggests that an air attack was conducted by the Israeli Air force as that has been the previous method of the dozen or more similar Israeli attacks against the Syrian Government forces with the May 2013 alleged tactical nuclear strike the most memorable.

Israeli Nuclear Attack on Syria, All Known Footage

In addition to air support Israel supported the jihadist insurgents in Syria with medical care along with equipment and logistical support and the support to the proscribed al Nusra Front terror group was noted in UN reports on the situation in southern Syria.

Israeli Support of al Qaeda is a Violation of International Law.

Israeli attacks on Syrian allied forces have continued despite the entrance of the Russian superpower on the loyalist side late last year and the continued presence of the highly effective S400 anti-aircraft missile systems at the Russian base in Syria so it can only be assumed that Russia and Israel have some type of agreement to allow Israeli strikes inside Syria to continue.

Syria: S-400 now deployed in Latakia to boost air defence

Such a deal would be understandable from a pragmatic point of view but are inexplicable in others. Why is Russia apparently conducting air defence stand downs and enabling the ground forces they are backing to be attacked?

Retaliatory Response?

These attacks are very dangerous because they risk provoking a response that could lead to an escalation and within hours this process could lead to an Israeli war against Lebanon as a minor Hezbollah provocation did in July 2006.

A month later more than a thousand Lebanese and forty three Israeli civilians, along with around two hundred Hezbollah fighters and 120 IDF soldiers were dead.

Several of the previous Israeli airstrikes have provoked retaliatory strikes on Hezbollah’s behalf. In January 2015 several IDF soldiers were killed and several vehicles were destroyed in rocket attacks on them in the Israeli occupied Golan Heights region of Syria following Israeli airstrikes that killed several Hezbollah fighters and an Iranian Revolutionary Guard General..

The last high-profile attack last December that killed Hezbollah figure Samir Quntar was met with a very half hearted response from Hezbollah with an I.E.D attack on an Israeli border patrol reportedly damaging several vehicles without causing any casualties.

The same will presumably be the case on this occasion. Any kind of war with Israel is completely against the interests of Hezbollah and their allies so they may do something in response but will  probably have to accept the attack on Mustafa Badredinne along with all their other casualties in Syria which have been severe despite the fact that they are generally a dominant force on the battlefield.

One of the most spectacular examples of that tactical superiority came in early 2014 with the Otaida ambush, an amazing operation where a long column of insurgents were blown up after walking into an elaborate trap involving several massive bomb attacks on them as they walked through the countryside south of Damascus at night. It should be noted that the massively successful and brilliant operations like the Otaida ambush are the exception to the rule in a grinding war.

Syrian Army Kills Scores of Militants in Ambush

Syrian Army KILLS 175 Rebels in Ambush – DEAD BODIES Everywhere

No End in Sight to the Syrian Nightmare.

This latest coup on the part of the forces attempting to  destroy Syria caps off a terrible period for the Syrian government forces over the past several weeks where the insurgents have won some victories, seizing the southern Aleppo town of Khan Touman and more importantly repeatedly demonstrating their ability to harass the loyalist forces and cause them to redeploy their best forces in response.

Battles for Syria | May 6th 2016 | Militants capture Khan Tuman

The detonation of a tunnel bomb under a Syrian military facility at the Aleppo front-line recently was another devastating blow against the loyalist forces leaving a reported 46 soldiers dead.

New tunnel bomb footage from Aleppo

Return from the dead | May 4th 2016

By concentrating their attacks against the weakest of the loyalist forces in rear areas the insurgents are thus able to steer the army around the battlefield meaning that the government forces are often seemingly stamping out one spot fire after another and thus the war is a near stalemate despite the continued presence of the Russian Airforce and an increasing Russian ground presence that saw another soldier killed by the insurgents this week.

A Grim Outlook.

For several weeks it almost seemed that the Cessation of Hostilities agreement was working, the level of the fighting and the areas impacted were greatly reduced with one large Syrian military hospital reporting a halving of the casualty rate but that was seemingly  just a lull as the insurgents rearmed and reinforced their forces and now the cease fires all blend together in near meaninglessness as few parties to the fighting pay them any attention.

These events perhaps indicate that the anti-Syria coalition can see the light at the end of the tunnel, they are hoping that the next US administration will “do the right thing” as Obama failed to do and destroy Syria as Libya and Iraq were destroyed. Destroy the state and walk away and let the jihadists fight over the ruins.

If Hillary Clinton is elected President business as usual can be expected to resume with the final destruction of Syria an urgent priority and Herr Clinton has already indicted her support for a No-Fly Zone in Northern Syria, a step that would both contravene international law and risk nuclear war with Russia.

Hillary Clinton’s Insane Plan for a No-fly Zone | Al Jazeera America

There are strong signs that neither side can contemplate military victory in Syria therefore the choices are to either find a political solution or allow the terrible suffering on all sides to continue while another few hundred thousand people are killed and the indifference of the opposition supporting politicians such as the Saudi, Turkish leadership to the fact that they are the authors of this mountain of suffering is remarkable.

Lebanon: Hundreds mourn loss of top Hezbollah commander

Top Hezbollah chief buried, Israel suspected in his dea