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Hezbollah financial operative found dead near Beirut

1 min

A Lebanese man sanctioned for allegedly funnelling millions of dollars to Palestinian armed group Hamas was found dead in a mountain town outside Beirut, a security source told Reuters on Wednesday.

Aerial view of the Pigeons' Rocks on Raouche, Beirut © Mena Today 

A Lebanese man sanctioned for allegedly funnelling millions of dollars to Palestinian armed group Hamas was found dead in a mountain town outside Beirut, a security source told Reuters on Wednesday.

The security source identified the victim as Mohammad Surur and said he hailed from a northeastern town near the Syrian border and worked in currency exchanges and money transfers, including between Iran-backed groups opposed to Israel.

He was found dead in a house in the town of Beit Meri on Tuesday, with several gunshot wounds to his legs, the Lebanese security source said.

That, along with a large of sum money found on the body, led Lebanon's security forces to conclude that Surur had been subject to a violent interrogation, not attempted theft, the source added.

Surur was sanctioned in 2019 by the U.S. Treasury, which said he had transferred "tens of millions of dollars per year" between the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' external branch, the Quds Force, and Hamas's armed wing the Qassam Brigades.

He would have been 57 at the time of his death, according to biographical details published by the Treasury.

Hamas launched a cross-border attack into Israeli territory on Oct. 7 that left 1,200 Israelis dead according to Israeli tallies. Israel's military responded with a devastating land, sea and air campaign on the Gaza Strip that has killed more than 33,000 Palestinians, authorities in the territory say.

The Treasury said in 2019 that Surur was also linked to Lebanon's Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas. Surur has been seen at public events hosted by Hezbollah in Lebanon but did not appear to have a formal or senior role directly within the armed group, a source familiar with Hezbollah's operations told Reuters.

Hezbollah has been exchanging fire across Lebanon's southern border with Israel in parallel with the Gaza war.

In a press conference, Surur's family pressed for a full investigation into the circumstances around his death but did not accuse any particular individual, group or government.

His death comes just days after the killing of a local official in an anti-Hezbollah faction, which has stoked fears of an outbreak of political and sectarian violence.

Lebanon is already suffering a nearly five-year-old financial collapse that has turned much of the economy into a cash-based one, worrying observers who say money laundering could grow.

In March, a top U.S. Treasury representative visited Lebanon to press officials to halt financial transfers to Hamas. A source at Lebanon's central bank told Reuters that Lebanon had denied such transfers were taking place.

Reporting by Laila Bassam and Maya Gebeily

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