Syria's Interior Minister Brig. Gen. Bassam Abdul-Majid confirmed Wednesday that a Damascus explosion Tuesday night had killed a senior member of the Lebanese-based guerilla group Hezbollah, Imad Mughniyah, the state-run news agency SANA reported.
It was the first official comment from Syria since Tuesday night's explosion in the Damascus neighborhood of Kfar Sousse. "Syria condemns this cowardly terrorist act," SANA quoted Abdul-Majid as saying.
The agency also reported that Abdul-Majid said an investigation into the blast was underway. "The ongoing investigation over the car bomb in the residential Kfar Sousse neighborhood last night has proven that it targeted Lebanese combatant Imad Mughniyah," SANA said, quoting Abdul-Majid.
Syria also accused Israel of masterminding the assassination, with Syrian parliament member Mohammed Habash saying that Israel and its "Zionist agents" were behind the act.
Mughniyah was wanted for the bombing of the Israeli embassy and the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in 1992 and 1994, among a string of terrorist acts.
"It is natural that if a prize was offered for Mughniyah's head, Israel and the United States would try to harm him," Habash said.
Meanwhile Wednesday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammed Ali Hosseini issued an official condemnation of the assassination.
"This action is yet another brazen example of organized state terrorism by the Zionist regime," he said, according to the state-run news agency IRNA. He called on the world to prevent the Zionist regime from taking these actions that are a clear violation of international law.
Hosseini praised Mughniyah, saying "undoubtedly, the record of struggles by the martyred fighter Imad Mughniyah ... is considered a shining page in the history of popular resistance against the aggressive Zionists and occupiers."
Jordan's largest political party the Islamic Action Front (IAF) also condemned the assassination, calling it a "cowardly crime" and blaming the operation on Israel and the United States.
Earlier Wednesday, Hezbollah lawmaker Ismail Sukeyir said the organization's leadership would meet in Beirut to discuss its response to the assassination. "Hezbollah has the right to retaliate anywhere in the world and in any way it sees fit," he said.
"Any attack against Hezbollah will be met with a response," A prominent religious figure in southern Lebanon said to Hezbollah's Al-Manar television station. Sheikh Afif Nablusi added "an eye for an eye, a man for a man, a leader for a leader."
Hezbollah also blamed Israel for the bomb, issuing a statement on Al-Manar saying "with all pride we declare a great jihadist leader of the Islamic resistance in Lebanon joining the martyrs ... The brother commander hajj Imad Mughniyah became a martyr at the hands of the Zionist Israelis."
Hamas also condemned the bombing: "We condemn this crime, and stress that the Muslim nation must rise and confront the Zionist Satan that is backed by the Americans," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu-Zuhri said Wednesday.
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