Hizbullah admits to death of commander

September 2, 2006 20:49


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Hezbollah announced Saturday the death of a military commander from wounds he sustained in monthlong fighting with Israel, making him the highest-ranking guerrilla the group acknowledges to have died in the war. In a statement carried on Hezbollah's al-Manar TV, Hezbollah said "the commander Hajj Ali Mohammed Saleh Bilal was martyred from wounds he sustained in the confrontations." It did not give his rank other than commander, meaning he was from the military wing. Lebanese security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Bilal was a sector military commander, but had no further details. Before the announcement, Hezbollah has acknowledge losing 68 fighters out of more than 800 Lebanese killed in the fighting. Most of the rest are civilians. Israel had said it killed hundreds of guerrillas. Hezbollah officials have said none of the top leadership was hurt. Naim Kassem, the deputy Hezbollah leader, has said in interviews that his son was badly wounded. Israel's devastating 34-day offensive on Lebanon was triggered when Hezbollah guerrillas snatched two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid July 12.

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