Son of slain Hezbollah chief takes command on Syria-Israel border

Hezbollah is increasing the level of its operations on the disputed border territory between Syria and Israel

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The son of an assassinated chief of Shiite militant group Hezbollah has been appointed the organization’s leader of a border district between Israel and Syria, CNN Arabic reported, citing Syrian opposition sources.

Jihad Mughniyeh, whose father Imad was killed in 2008 in a car bomb attack in the Syrian capital of Damascus, is said to be serving as Hezbollah’s Golan District commander, Syrian National Council spokesman Mouayyed Ghizlan told CNN on Sunday.

Hezbollah - an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime – is increasing the level of its operations on the disputed border territory between Syria and Israel, the spokesman said.

Ghizlan said Mughniyeh was close to current Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, his father’s brother-in-law and successor Mustafa Badreddine and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, adding: “This means that there is a big security and strategic escalation for Hezbollah in Syria in the future and this caused concern in the intelligence service of the Free Syrian Army after the discovery of the documents in Tal al-Hara.”

Badreddine, who replaced Imad Mughniyeh as Hezbollah’s chief operations officer, is one of five Hezbollah suspects being tried by the U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon in the Hague that is probing the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

A greater threat

Earlier this month, Israel’s military chief of staff said in an interview that Hezbollah poses a greater threat to Israel than Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and said the recent offensive against Gaza was successful.

“The threat facing Israel from Lebanon is much larger than that posed by Gaza,” Benny Gantz told Yedioth Ahronoth, asking rhetorically: “But does that mean I need to drive to Jerusalem to post haste and demand we attack Lebanon?”

In 2006, a military confrontation between Lebanon and Israel led to the death of more than 1,000 Lebanese. Although the rival sides agreed to a cessation of hostilities, the two are technically in a state of war.