The Free Syrian Army released a video clip on Monday morning claiming responsibility for killing Hezbollah militant Samir Kuntar.
In a YouTube video featuring armed rebels from the Free Syrian Army, a spokesman denied Hezbollah’s claims that the Israel was behind the attack, saying instead that they had managed to assassinate Kuntar and his companions.
The Free Syrian Army said that “the Party of Satan,” a play on the meaning of Hezbollah in Arabic (Party of God), had made the claims that Israel was behind the assassination in order to demoralize the Free Syrian Army and undermine their rival group’s achievements.
The Free Syrian Army is fighting against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, while Hezbollah has sent thousands of its own fighters from Lebanon to Syria to bolster Assad. In addition Hezbollah has been training in south Lebanon and Bekaa Shiites from Afghanistan and Pakistan and sending them over to Syria
In the YouTube clip, the the so-called “knights of the Houran brigade” warned, “Hezbollah will not be spared from our future strikes.”
Israeli did not claim responsibility for the strikes, but media reports on Sunday quoted Hezbollah’s al Manner TV that Kuntar was killed in an Israeli raid near the Syrian capital.
According to Al Manar Israeli warplanes targeted a building where Kuntar and a number of his companions were residing in Hay al-Homsi in Jaramana southeast of Damascus.
Witnesses said that three missiles were launched at the residential building and led to its total collapse, killing six individuals and wounding another twelve.
Kuntar was convicted of carrying out one of the most daring attacks in Israeli history and spent nearly three decades in an Israeli prison.
Kuntar, known in Lebanon as “The Dean of Lebanese Prisoners” for being the longest-held prisoner in Israel, was killed along with eight others in the strike in the Damascus suburb of Jaramana Saturday night, Hezbollah’s al Al Manner reported on Sunday.
Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV said two Israeli warplanes that violated Syrian airspace fired four long-range missiles at the residential building in Jaramana. It aired footage of what it said was the building, which appeared to be destroyed. Kuntar’s brother, Bassam, confirmed his “martyrdom” in a Facebook post on Sunday.
Syrian state news agency SANA said Kuntar was killed in a “terrorist and hostile missile attack on a residential building.” SANA did not mention Israel in its report on the strike, which it said killed several people.
Although Al-Manar said Israeli warplanes violated Syrian airspace, the Lebanon-based Al-Mayadeen TV station, which is close to Hezbollah and the Syrian government, said two Israeli warplanes fired the four missiles while flying over northern Israel.
Al-Mayadeen said that Farhan al-Shaalan, a senior commander with the anti-Israeli “resistance” movement in the Golan Heights, was also killed in the air raid together with an aide to Kantar.
Israeli Cabinet minister Yuval Steinitz said he was not sorry about Kuntar’s death but could not comment on the accusations that Israel was behind the killing.
“If something happened to him I think that no civilized person can be sorry. But again I learned it from the reports in the international media and I can make no concrete reference to it,” he said.
Kantar and four Hezbollah militants were freed in 2008 in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah in 2006, whose capture sparked a 34-day war between Israel and Hezbollah. His release was highly controversial in Israel, where he is believed to be the perpetrator of one of the most grisly attacks in Israeli history.
Hezbollah vows revenge
Hezbollah leaders vowed revenge against Israel on Monday for the death of Kuntar
“The Israeli enemy will regret the assassination of Samir Kuntar,” said the head of Hezbollah’s foreign relations, Omar al-Mussawi, at Kuntar’s funeral on Monday afternoon.
Thousands attended the funeral, including not only many senior Hezbollah militants, but also Lebanese politicians and leaders of Palestinian factions in the country. Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam even called the Kuntar family and Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah’s aide, Hussein al-Khalil, to express his condolences.