Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah says the group will increase its presence in Syria following killing of top military commander in an attack it blames on Syrian rebel groups. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT - SUBTITLED (no reporter narration) STORY: Lebanese Shi'ite group Hezbollah on Friday vowed to strengthen its presence in Syria and send more leaders to the conflict, a week after its top military commander in the country was killed near Damascus. The death of Mustafa Badreddine, who Hezbollah said was killed by shellfire from Sunni Islamist rebels, was one of the biggest blows to the Iranian-backed group's leadership and the latest loss of a prominent figure in Syria. Hezbollah, Lebanon's most powerful political and military group, has provided crucial support to the Syrian army, along with Iranian forces and more recently the Russian air force. The group is estimated to have lost around 1,200 fighters in Syria's five-year conflict. ''The pure blood that has been shed will lead us to a stronger and bigger presence in Syria, because we believe in the cause of this fight and we believe it is true and we believe that the result of it will be victory. We will remain in Syria, our leaders will continue to go to Syria more than before, and we will be present in Syria in new ways and we will continue to fight this battle,'' Hezbollah Leader, Hassan Nasrallah said at a ceremony honouring Badreddine in southern Beirut. At least four prominent figures in Hezbollah have been killed since January 2015. A number of high-ranking Iranian officers have also been killed, either fighting Syrian insurgents or in Israeli attacks. The group has said it sees the Syrian war as an existential battle against Sunni extremists. It has fought against a range of insurgent groups including al Qaeda's Nusra Front, a powerful fighting force in a conflict where Sunni jihadist fighters have eclipsed more moderate rebels.