Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the radical Shiite Hezbollah movement, on Friday ruled out Israel as being behind the killing of the movement's top military commander in Syria.

"We did not find indications that point out that Israel was behind ... our commander's assassination, and although we don't acquit Israel, we are also not accusing it," Nasrallah said in a speech that marks one week since the assassination of Mustafa Badreddine.

Badreddine was killed inside his base near Damascus airport. Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran, has blamed Sunni extremists.

Nasrallah vowed that more of his commanders and militants will be going to Syria and will continue to fight in ongoing battles.

"We have lost a number of martyrs and wounded ... but despite that we along with our allies in Syria are winning and advancing," he said.

"The martyrdom of any of our leaders has not pushed us to leave any battlefield and Badreddine's blood will push us to a bigger presence in Syria," he added.

Hezbollah is currently reeling from losses on the battlefields in neighbouring Syria, where the Shiite movement is backing President Bashar al-Assad.

Sources in Lebanon say Hezbollah has lost at least 1,500 fighters, including many high-ranking commanders, since 2013. In Beirut's southern suburbs, the group's stronghold, martyr posters line the walls of the streets.

Badreddine took over from Imad Mughaniyeh in 2008 as the group's military chief after the latter was assassinated. Jihad Mughaniyeh, the son, was killed last year in southern Syria.

Replacing such leaders is not easy for the movement, and recruitment of youngsters has been stepped up.

"Every day you hear of at least two or three young men, aged not more than 21, who died in Syria. Some days you hear of more," a resident of Beirut's southern suburb told dpa on condition of anonymity.

"You feel people are getting seriously scared of the fate of their sons who are taking part in battles in Syria," the resident said.

Hezbollah's involvement in Syria was made public by Nasrallah exactly three years ago during a speech celebrating the Israeli withdrawal from south Lebanon in 2000.

There are now estimated to be some 5,000 Hezbollah fighters involved in battles across the country.

Iran itself has been sending aid - including weapons, fighters and commanders - to help al-Assad stay in power and push back rebels. Tehran has also been recruiting Afghan Shiite refugees and Iraqi Shiite militias to aid the government.

The civil war in Syria started as peaceful protests against al-Assad's rule but quickly evolved into all-out conflict, now notably along sectarian lines, after the security forces violently crushed demonstrations.

The Iran-Syria-Hezbollah axis has existed since Lebanon's civil war in the 1980s and is based both on sectarian allegiances but also on staunch opposition to Israel.

Related stories

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.