Hizballah retrieves body of senior commander killed in Syria
The Lebanese militant group Hizballah announced the recovery of the body of a senior commander killed in fighting against Islamic State [IS] group militants in south-eastern Aleppo last week.
Confirmation of Ali Fayyad's death marks the loss of one of Hizballah's highest-ranking commanders during their battles on the side of the Syrian regime.
Lebanese media reports Ali Fayyad was among four Hizballah fighters killed in the town of Tal-Haman in the province of Aleppo.
Fayyad's death came during an assault against IS-group militants by Hizballah and Syrian regime forces to reopen the strategically important Athrayya-Khanasser road in rural Aleppo, Hizballah's Manar TV reported.
The town of Khanasser, approximately 50 kilometres [31 miles] south-east of Aleppo, and the Khanasser road it overlooks are critical points in the regime's supply-line leading from Damascus to Aleppo.
Khanasser was briefly taken during an IS-group assault last week but is attested to have been retaken by the Syrian regime on Sunday.
The body of Ali Fayyad was retrieved the same evening during an operation carried out by Hizballah's special forces, the group said on Monday.
Following the entry of Hizballah on the side of the Syrian regime in 2012, Fayyad was known to have participated in fighting against Syrian opposition factions in the eastern Ghouta, Daraa, Lattakia and Aleppo.
Opposition forces claim Fayyad was influential in planning the siege of the Ghouta area of Damascus on behalf of regime forces.
Fayyad, a noted military veteran of the group in their battles against Israel, was known locally as "Haj Alaa of Bosnia" following his stay in Bosnia in the 1990's on the side of Bosnian fighters.
Fayyad also penned a comment piece for the Guardian Newspaper in 2006 defending Hizballah during Israel's 2006 war against Lebanon.
Since it began fighting on the side of the Syrian regime, Hizballah has lost a number of senior members and many more fighters.
Opposition groups claim more than a thousand of its fighters have been killed since 2012, while the group itself does not release official figures.