A young footballer who played in Lebanon's Premier League has been killed fighting alongside Hezbollah in the battle for Syria's Aleppo, a source close to the Shiite movement said today.
Kassem Shamkha was killed "while fighting off a rebel attack yesterday on western Aleppo," the source told AFP, referring to the government-held side of the city.
The 19-year-old midfielder was from Burj al-Barajneh, a southern suburb of Beirut where support for Hezbollah is widespread.
Since 2009, Shamkha had played for Hezbollah's Al-Ahed football club which has won Lebanon's national championships four times, most recently in 2015.
In Lebanon, most football teams are financed by political parties.
"He will go down in history in the club's records, because he was a hero on the football field just like on the battlefield in defence of the homeland," Al-Ahed secretary general Mohammad Assi told AFP.
"He was a talented player with huge potential for the club and for Lebanon, but he chose the route of jihad," he added.
Several thousand Hezbollah fighters are fighting on behalf of President Bashar al-Assad across war-torn Syria.
Hezbollah has never provided an official death toll for its fighters, but monitors estimate that several hundred have been killed in Syria, including top commanders.