Intelligence sources in Syria and Lebanon said Friday that Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah strongly suspects that US and Russian special forces assassinated Mustafa Bader Al-din, the commander of Hizballah forces in Syria, in a joint operation-despite the public allegation against amorphous rebels.
The sources said that when Nasrallah gave his speech Thursday evening to mark “nakba” (disaster) day (which is what the terrorist organization calls Israeli Independence Day), he already knew that Al-din had been killed in a mysterious explosion at a secret Hizballah command facility near Damascus international airport. The assassination was the reason why he devoted his speech to an extraordinary verbal attack on the US. He claimed that Washington had caused a new disaster in the Middle East in an attempt to break up the bloc of Iran, Syria and Hizballah. He also accused the US of bringing ISIS and other “barbaric” terrorist organizations to the region.
debkafile’s intelligence and counterterrorism sources report that Hizballah based its suspicion on six points:
1. No foreign aircraft, including ones carrying elite troops, can enter the Damascus area without coordination with the Russian air force and its air defense networks in Syria. In other words, the Russians knew about the strike that was about to occur and did not report it to the Syrians or the Iranians, and certainly not to Hizballah.
2. Over the last few days, the Americans placed special forces troops with attack helicopters at Remelan airbase, located in northern Syria next to the Syrian Kurdish city of Hasakah. The placement of the force enables the American command in the Middle East, CENTCOM, to take military action against terror targets anywhere in Syria. Hizballah suspects that the assassination of Al-din was the first operation by the newly-deployed US force.
3. In 2013, the US named Al-din a "specially designated global terrorist," and less than a year ago, on July 21, 2015, it placed sanctions on him and announced the confiscation of the senior terrorist's property throughout the world. These steps were taken due to his position as commander of Hizballah's forces in Syria, and as a regular participant in weekly meetings with Syrian President Bashar Assad and Hizballah leader Nasrallah for coordination of operations in the war. In other words, in the terrorist organization's view, Al-din was in Washington's crosshairs.
4. Hizballah’s command facility near Damascus was top secret, so Hizballah had been convinced that no outsiders were aware of its existence. But now it believes that three intelligence services operating in Syria could have known about it: those of the US, Russia and Israel.
5. The assassination of one of the commanders of the four armies backing Syrian President Bashar Assad could only mean one thing: whoever assassinated Al-din wanted to deal a severe blow to Assad’s military capabilities.
As debkafile reported in the first hours after the mysterious hit, Al-din had been planning to withdraw Hizballah forces from the various Syrian fronts and to concentrate them on the Syria-Lebanon border. This repositioning of forces is now expected to be sped up, dealing a major blow to Assad.
6. There are unconfirmed reports that Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, who operates in Iraq in coordination with Iran, and whose supporters seized control of parts of Baghdad’s Green Zone last week, secretly visited Beirut and met with Nasrallah and Al-din. The three were said to have discussed the possibility that Hizballah would send forces from Syria to Iraq to help al-Sadr in Baghdad.
Whoever assassinated Al-din took action to prevent this from happening.
Meanwhile, on Friday afternoon, at Al-Din’s funeral in Beirut, Nasrallah’s deputy, Sheikh Naim Qassem, asserted that Hizballah had avoided specifying the nature of the blast that killed Al-Din because there were several hypotheses. However, he said the terrorist organization would announce the nature of the explosion and identity the perpetrators of the attack within several hours.
In a clear signal to Iran and Hizballah that they should not dare to blame the US for the assassination, the White House issued on Friday an unusual announcement in response to reports in the Middle East claiming that Al-din was killed in an American airstrike. It said there were no US or coalition flights over the area of the mysterious explosion. The announcement did not mention the possibility that Al-din was eliminated by a missile fired from the ground.
On Saturday morning, May 14, Hizballah alleged that Syrian rebels killed Al-din with artillery fire. It was a completely baseless accusation, even for Hizballah. If the rebels had information on the senior terrorist's location and were able to aim directly at him, then Al-din was justified in believing that there is no reason for Hizballah forces to be in Syria anymore, and that it would be best for them to withdraw.