Syria was shocked at top Hezbollah operative's assassination two yrs back: Wikileaks

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Damascus, Dec 8 (ANI): US diplomatic cables exposed by Wikileaks have shown that Syrian officials of President Bashar al-Assad's regime were shocked at the assassination of a senior Hezbollah operative in Damascus two years back, which ultimately led to a blame game between rival security services and created a mystery across the Middle East about the actual culprits.

The Guardian quoted the February 2008 US report as saying that the Syrian regime was stunned when Imad Mughniyeh, a founder member of the militant Lebanese Shia movement, was murdered by a sophisticated bomb planted in his car.

"Syrian military intelligence and general intelligence directorate officials are currently engaged in an internecine struggle to blame each other for the breach of security that resulted in Mughniyeh's death," it added.

Mughniyeh was wanted by the US, Israel, France and other governments. Hezbollah is backed by Iran and Syria, the paper said.

Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Lebanon Abdel Aziz Khoja had reportedly told US diplomats in Beirut that Hezbollah believed the Syrians were responsible for the Damascus killing. No Syrian official was present at Mughniyeh's funeral in Beirut's southern suburbs the following day.

Khoja had talked about rumours that Syria and Israel had made a deal to allow Mughniyeh to be killed. No one has taken responsibility for the assassination so far, though Israel has been widely blamed for it.

Mughniyeh, linked to the kidnappings of western hostages in the 1980s, was a controversial figure. In 2006 the Lebanese Defence Minister, Elias Murr, had told US diplomats that Mughniyeh was "very active in Beirut", hinting that he was involved in a number of murders of Lebanese politicians who were hostile to Syria, the paper added. (ANI)

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