A United Nations tribunal is close to indicting senior commanders from the militant group Hezbollah for the murder of Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, according to a U.S. report Monday.
UN investigators are likely to indict between two and six members of the Shi'ite Muslim militia before the end of the year, including Mustafa Badreddine, brother-in-law of Imad Mugniyeh, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Mugniyeh, who was wanted by the U.S. for masterminding a string of terror attacks before he was assassinated in Damascus in 2008, is also believed to have played a role in the 2005 killing of Hariri, the Journal said.
Hezbollah had previously reacted angrily to growing speculation of an indictment. Last week, the group's chief, Hassan Nasrallah, urged Lebanon to boycott the UN inquiry, accusing investigators of collaborating with Israel.
Security sources in Lebanon have warned of a violent reaction by the Hezbollah if it is formally charged for the murder, saying it could even launch a coup to unseat the current government headed by Hariri's son, Saad.
Syria, which alongside Iran is Hezbollah's major backer in the region, is also deeply worried by the prospect of an indictment. In late October, the country's President, Bashar Assad, said indictments against Hezbollah could "rip Lebanon apart".
Hariri and 21 others were killed when a massive bomb tore into his convoy as it drove through central Beirut. A later UN report suggested the explosion may have been the work of a suicide bomber.
Initial investigations appeared to point to Syrian involvement and while the tribunal has not ruled this out, four Syrian generals detained in 2005 were released last year for lack of evidence against them.
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