Hezbollah says top commander died in shelling near Damascus airport

Hezbollah members carry a picture of top Hezbollah commander Mustafa Badreddine, who was killed in an attack in Syria, during his funeral in Beirut's southern suburbs, Lebanon, May 13, 2016. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanese Shi’ite Muslim group Hezbollah said on Saturday its top military commander Mustafa Badreddine died as a result of artillery shelling near Syria’ Damascus airport.

Hezbollah announced Badreddine’s death on Friday and a military funeral was held for him on the same day in the group’s stronghold in southern Beirut.

“Investigations have showed that the explosion, which targeted one of our bases near Damascus International Airport, and which led to the martyrdom of commander Mustafa Badreddine, was the result of artillery bombardment carried out by takfiri groups in the area,” Hezbollah’s statement said.

“Takfiri” is a word used by the group to refer to hard-line, armed, Sunni Islamist groups.

Reporting by Lisa Barrington; Editingh by Andrew Heavens