Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, a former spiritual mentor of the Shiite militant group Hezbollah and branded a "terrorist" by Washington, died on Sunday aged 75, officials said.
A top authority of Shiite Islam in Lebanon and the region, especially Iraq where he was born, Fadlallah held the title of "sayyed" to denote direct lineage with the Prophet Mohammed and was known for his moderate social views.
A fiery anti-US and anti-Israeli critic, he died in a Beirut hospital where he was admitted on Friday for internal bleeding.
"Sayyed Fadlallah has died this morning," senior aide Ayatollah Abdullah al-Ghurayfi told a news conference, flanked by the late cleric’s son, Sayyed Ali Fadlallah, who could not hold back his tears.
"The father, the leader, the marjaa (religious authority), the guide, the human being is gone," Ghurayfi said.
Fadlallah had been hospitalised several times over the past months. On Friday, he was admitted to intensive care as his health deteriorated.
Hezbollah’s Manar television interrupted its regular broadcasts to announce his death, posting a picture of the black-turbanned Fadlallah, airing Koranic verses and calling for three days of national mourning.