Professional Lebanese soccer player martyred in Syria’s Aleppo
A professional Lebanese soccer player has lost his life while battling alongside the fighters of Hezbollah resistance movement against foreign-sponsored Takfiri militants in Syria’s beleaguered northwestern city of Aleppo.
A close source to Hezbollah movement, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Friday that 19-year-old Kassem Shamkha was killed the previous day as he and fellow fighters were repelling a militant assault on the western flank of the Syrian city, located some 355 kilometers north of the capital Damascus.
Shamkha was born in 1997 in the southern Lebanese village of Burj Qallawiyah, and was brought up in Beirut’s southern suburb of Burj al-Barajneh.
The late midfielder used to play for al-Ahed Sport Club, which competes in Lebanon’s top soccer division – the Lebanese Premier League. Al-Ahed, which is strongly supported by the Lebanese Shia Muslims and affiliated to Hezbollah movement, has won the Lebanese Premier League crown four times.
The club claimed its first national championships title in 2008, and most recently in 2015.
“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 defense of the homeland,” al-Ahed Secretary General Mohammad Assi said.
“He was a talented player with huge potential for the club and for Lebanon, but he chose the route of jihad,” he added.
Hezbollah has regularly reiterated that its military presence in Syria is meant to stop the spillover of the deadly Syrian conflict into Lebanon.
Last year, Hezbollah fighters and Syrian military forces launched a joint offensive on Lebanon-Syria border in a bid to cleanse the area from Daesh and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as the al-Nusra Front, militants.
The foreign-sponsored conflict in Syria, which started in March 2011, has claimed the lives of more than 400,000 people, according to an estimate by the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura.