Thousands at funeral for Hezbollah fighters killed in Syria by Turkish airstrike

BEIRUT — Thousands of mourners throng the coffins of five fighters from the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, whose funeral is held today in southern Beirut after they were killed in neighboring Syria’s northwestern Idlib region.

The fighters are among at least eight Hezbollah members who died Friday in Turkish attacks amid fierce fighting between Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces and Turkish troops and allied militiamen. The deaths marked the highest for Hezbollah in Syria in years.

Hezbollah sent thousands of its battle-hardened fighters into Syria in 2012, a year after the country’s conflict began. They’ve been helping Assad’s forces win major battles against rebels, and along with Russian air power have turned the tide of the war. Over the past two years, as the security situation stabilized in many areas, Hezbollah withdrew much of its forces, leaving only a few hundred fighters in several areas across the war-torn country.

The funeral is held in Beirut’s southern district of Ghobeiri. A crowd of a few thousand people — relatives and supporters — walk behind five coffins wrapped in yellow Hezbollah flags amid cries of “Allahu Akbar,” meaning “God is great.”

Heavy gunfire rings out as supporters fire in the air, a traditional sign of mourning. At least five people are seen being taken on stretchers after they fainted, apparently overwhelmed by emotion.

— Agencies

Mourners carry the coffin a Hezbollah fighter who was killed in Syria’s northwestern Idlib region, during a funeral for him and four comrades in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, March 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)