BEIRUT (Reuters) - A senior Lebanese-Canadian commander in the Shi‘ite Muslim militant group Hezbollah has been killed in Syria where he was fighting alongside Syrian government troops against rebels, security sources and a monitoring group said on Tuesday.
Fawzi Ayoub, who is on the FBI’s “most wanted” list for attempting to bomb Israel, was killed on Monday by the predominantly Sunni Muslim rebel forces who have been waging war on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for more than three years.
Hezbollah has joined the Syrian government in a increasingly sectarian conflict that is pulling in fighters from across the region and destabilizing Syria’s neighbors.
Sunni Muslim Islamist groups, some of them linked to al Qaeda, have joined mostly Sunni Syrian rebels against the Assad, who belongs to the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi‘ite Islam.
Ayoub was arrested in the West Bank in 2000 and spent four years in an Israeli jail before being released as part of a prisoner swap, the sources said. He is a prominent member of Hezbollah and comes from the southern village of Ain Qaana.
He also holds Canadian citizenship and has lived in the United States. The anti-Assad Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed that Ayoub had been killed in Syria.
The sources said Ayoub was killed in Nawa, a town in the southern Syrian province of Deraa, the cradle of the Syrian uprising-turned-war in which 160,000 people have been killed.
Reporting by Oliver Holmes; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky