Israeli strike in Syria kills a former bodyguard of Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, right, gives a speech while accompanied by his bodyguard Yasser Nemr Qranbish.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, right, gives a speech while accompanied by his bodyguard Yasser Nemr Qranbish during a rally in the southern port city of Tyre, Lebanon, on May 25, 2006.
(Hussein Malla / Associated Press)

An Israeli strike in Syria on Tuesday killed a former personal bodyguard of the Hezbollah leader, an official with the Lebanese militant group said.

The news came hours after an Israeli drone strike on a car in Syria near the Syria-Lebanon border was reported by a war monitor and by pro-government radio Sham FM. The Hezbollah official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

The Britain-based pro-opposition war monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said two members of Hezbollah in the car were killed in the strike, while a Syrian driver was critically wounded. There was no immediate comment from Syrian authorities or from the Israeli military.

Hezbollah later identified the militant as Yasser Nemr Qranbish, although they did not disclose the details of his death. That’s standard practice for Hezbollah combatants who aren’t in leadership roles.

Hezbollah supporters on social media mourned his death, calling him the “shield of the Sayyed”, in reference to his tenure as a bodyguard of leader Hassan Nasrallah.

Since October and the Hamas attack on southern Israel, Israeli airstrikes on Lebanon have killed over 450 people, most of them Hezbollah fighters, but the dead also include more than 80 civilians and noncombatants.

On the Israeli side, 17 soldiers and 11 civilians have been killed since the war in Gaza began. Tens of thousands of people on both sides of the tense Lebanon-Israel frontier have been displaced in the months-long war.

For years, Israel has launched frequent strikes on targets in Syria linked to Iran, its powerful regional backer, but rarely acknowledges them. The strikes have escalated over the last five months against the backdrop of the war in Gaza and ongoing clashes between Hezbollah and Israeli forces on the Lebanon-Israel border.

A day after the Hamas surprise attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7, Hezbollah launched rockets on northern Israel, leading to limited clashes along the tense border with Lebanon.

The attacks have since gradually escalated, with Hezbollah introducing new weapons in their attacks and Israel striking deeper into Lebanon. The group maintains that it will stop its attacks once there is a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip.

Mroue and Chehayeb write for the Associated Press.

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