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Published: Wednesday January 15, 2014 MYT 11:07:48 PM
Updated: Wednesday January 15, 2014 MYT 11:08:38 PM

Lebanese forces capture second leader of al Qaeda-linked group

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanese forces captured another leader of an al Qaeda-linked militant group in a raid on his hideout in central Lebanon on Wednesday, the military said, weeks after they detained the unit's commander.

Jamal Daftardar, a Lebanese citizen, was one of the leading figures in the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, a group operating in Lebanon which claimed responsibility for a bombing on the Iranian embassy in November which killed at least 23.

The arrest comes three weeks after security forces captured the group's Saudi leader, Majid bin Muhammad al-Majid. Majid died in custody at a military hospital early in January from kidney failure, Lebanese security sources said.

"Secret police forces were able to detain the Abdullah Azzam Brigades leader Jamal Daftardar at dawn this morning after raiding his location in a village of the western Bekaa," a military statement said.

In tweets at the time of the Iran embassy bombing, members of the Abdullah Azzam brigades threatened more attacks in Lebanon unless Tehran pulled its forces out of Syria.

An increasingly sectarian civil war there has attracted Sunni and Shi'ite Muslim fighters from neighbouring countries as well as military support and economic aid from Iran.

Last year the Azzam Brigades, named after an associate of the late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, were formally designated by the U.S. State Department as a foreign terrorist organisation.

In Syria, a Belgian commander of the al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Abu Baraa al-Jazairi, was killed in fierce internecine clashes between rival rebel groups for the northern town of Saraqeb on Wednesday, activists said.

The group however denied Jazairi had been killed.

(Reporting by Erika Solomon; editing by Andrew Roche)


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