The commander of the Hezbollah special forces died in an Israeli air strike
Wissam al-Tawil in a photo released on January 8. Photo: Reuters

Wissam al-Tawil, leader of Radwan special forces, became one of the highest-ranking Hezbollah commanders killed in Israel’s air campaign.

Three security sources in Lebanon said on January 8 that Wissam al-Tawil, deputy commander of a unit of Hezbollah’s elite Radwan task force, and a gunman were killed when an air strike in Lebanon attacked their vehicle. Southern Lebanon, about 6 km from the Israeli border.

It is unclear whether this was a deliberate Israeli attack on Wissam al-Tawil or a conventional air strike.

Israeli officials have not commented on the information.

Wissam al-Tawil was among the highest-ranking Hezbollah commanders killed during three months of conflict that broke out in the Gaza Strip and the Israel-Lebanon border. An unnamed official said that al-Tawil played a leading role in managing Hezbollah’s operations in southern Lebanon.

“It’s a very painful blow to Hezbollah,” one person said, while another security official warned “the situation could explode at any time.”

Hezbollah previously released photos of Wissam al-Tawil taken with many of the group’s leaders such as leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and Imad Mughniyeh, the commander killed in Syria in 2008. Wissam al-Tawil also appeared next to General Qassem Soleimani, fourth. The Quds Special Command of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was killed by the US in 2020.

Hezbollah forces in Lebanon regularly attack Israeli territory with missiles and drones after the conflict in the Gaza Strip broke out on October 7 last year. Hezbollah wants to show support for Hamas forces, an ally in the “axis of resistance” against Israel led by Iran in the Middle East.

On January 6, Hezbollah launched 62 rockets at an Israeli military radar station in the north of the country in retaliation for Israel’s killing of Saleh al-Arouri, deputy leader of Hamas’s political wing, in Lebanon four days earlier.

More than 130 Hezbollah fighters, including many Radwan special forces members, were killed in fighting along the border.