Lebanese footballer killed fighting with Hizballah in Aleppo

Lebanese footballer killed fighting with Hizballah in Aleppo
Kassem Shankha was just 19 and previously played for the Beirut-based team al-Ahed in Lebanon's top flight, but was killed fighting alongside Hizballah in Aleppo.
2 min read
06 November, 2016
Kassem Shankha played for al-Ahed Sports Club [screen-grab from Twitter]

A professional Lebanese footballer has died fighting for Hizballah against opposition forces in Aleppo province.

A source close to Hizballah said on Friday that Kassem Shamkha, who was just 19 years old, was killed on Thursday while repelling a rebel assault northwest of Aleppo city. 

Shamkha was born in the southern Lebanese village of Burj Qallawiyah in 1997 and grew up in Burj al-Barajneh, a neighbourhood in Beirut’s southern suburbs where Hizballah enjoys a strong presence, reported Iran’s state affiliated Press TV.

Shamkha previously played for al-Ahed Sports Club, a Beirut based team supported by members of the country’s Shia community, and affiliated with Hizballah, that competes in Lebanon’s top division and has won the competition four times. 

“He will go down in history in the club's records, because he was a hero on the football field just like on the battlefield in defense of the homeland,” al-Ahed Secretary General Mohammad Assi said in the aftermath of Shamkha’s death.

“He was a talented player with huge potential for the club and for Lebanon, but he chose the route of jihad.” 

Hizballah, which is financially backed by Iran, is fighting in Syria in support of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

In recent weeks the Shia paramilitary group is rumoured to have sustained considerable casualties as pro-regime forces push towards a decisive victory over Syrian opposition groups in Aleppo, currently viewed as the most crucial battleground in Syria’s civil war.