A few days after Michel Aoun, the former Lebanese army chief and Hezbollah ally, was elected as president of Lebanon, a Lebanese sports club mourned one of its members yesterday who died in Aleppo in northern Syria.
The Al-Ahed Sports Club, a Lebanese football team playing in Lebanon’s top football division, announced on its Facebook page the killing of one of their players, Qasem Shamkha, on Thursday.
Qasem Shamkha, 19-years-old, was not only a footballer, but a fighter for the militant Shia Lebanese Hezbollah faction. Hezbollah is a long-time ally and proxy for Shia Iran, which has greatly expanded its influence and power at the expense of Sunni states since 2003.
“Qasem Shamkha received the rank of martyrdom in defence of our country, our land and our honour in the face of the terrorist takfiri tide,” the club announced on its Facebook page, using a pejorative term frequently used by Iran and its proxies against any Sunni groups who oppose them, not only Daesh.
Al-Ahed’s Facebook post did not specify the precise place or circumstances behind Shamkha’s death.
At his swearing-in ceremony in the Lebanese parliament, Aoun said Lebanon must be protected from “regional fires,” a reference to the conflict in Syria where Hezbollah is fighting in support of President Bashar Al-Assad. He also promised a “pre-emptive fight against terrorism,” referring to Sunni groups in Syria.
A source that is close to Hezbollah said that “Shamkha was martyred while repelling an insurgent attack on Thursday west of Aleppo.”
Syrian opposition factions announced the killing of around six Iran-backed Lebanese militia members in Aleppo and wounding several others after targeting them with an anti-tank missile in Aleppo.
Shamkha was born in 1997 in the southern village of Burj Qalaway in Lebanon, and lived in Burj Al-Barajneh refugee camp in the southern suburbs of Beirut, a predominantly Shia area that is a bastion for Hezbollah.
Al-Ahed Sport Club is a top-tier team in Lebanon, winning the Lebanese Premier League four times with the last championship victory being in 2015.