Car bomb spectaculars, mistresses and 13 mobile phones – who was the Hizbollah boss killed in Syria?

One of the Middle East’s most charismatic and mysterious guerrilla leaders has been killed in a explosion of unknown origin on an air base in Syria, the militant group Hizbollah has confirmed.

Mustafa Badreddine, 55, who was directing the group’s operations in support of the Assad regime, was the highest ranking leader of the group to have died since his cousin and brother-in-law, its military commander, was assassinated in Damascus by Mossad in 2008.

Initial claims that Israel had killed Badreddine too were withdrawn, and the Hizbollah statement, which did not give a date or time of his death, said it was investigating whether it was the result of an air raid, missile attack or artillery shelling.