Two bomb blasts near Beirut’s Iranian embassy killed at least 23 people and wounded more than 100. The death toll is expected to rise, according to Lebanese officials.
Reportedly, two explosions, one after another, ripped through the area near Iranian embassy in south Beirut. An Iranian diplomat was among the victims killed in the blast, according to reports.
NBC News reported:
“Iran's ambassador to Lebanon, Rokon Abadi, was uninjured, but in an interview with Lebanese television station MTV he said his country's cultural attache, Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Ansari, was killed,”
According to Lebanese authorities, a suicide bomber and a car bomb executed the blasts in the Bir Hassan neighbourhood, a Shiite Hezbollah stronghold which faced a string of attacks in July and August. The area houses a number of foreign embassies, including those of Egypt, Kuwait and China.
A suicide bomber carried out the first blast when he rushed toward the walls of the embassy, while car bomb caused the second blast, Reuters reported.
Reportedly, an al-Qaida-linked group referred as the Abdullah Azzam Brigades claimed responsibility for the blasts. The group pledged further attacks unless Iran pulled its forces out of Syria.
NBC quoted Sheikh Sirajeddine Zuraiqat, the group's religious guide who posted on Twitter:
“We will continue operations in Lebanon, God willing, until we achieve two demands: Withdrawal of Iranian elements from Syria, and the release of our families from the unjust prisons of Lebanon.”
Tehran, a Shiite state supports Lebanon’s Shiite militant group Hezbollah and is a key ally of Bahar al-Assad’s regime. Hezbollah also supports the Syrian regime and its fighters are active in fighting the Sunni-led civil war within Syria.
Reportedly the military involvement of Iran’s militia and the Hezbollah has turned the tide in favor of President Bashar Assad in the Syrian civil war.
According to Reuters, “Hezbollah's military role in Syria has helped to inflame sectarian tension there and in Lebanon. Many Lebanese Sunnis back the Syrian rebels, while many Shi'ites support Assad, whose minority Alawite sect derives from Shi'ite Islam.”
With Shiite and Sunni fighters from different parts of Middle East joining the Syrian civil war, the conflict has widened. The escalating sectarian conflict threatens to disturb the peace and stability of almost the entire Middle East. The twin blast in Beirut gives a clear indication that Syria’s civil war has now spilled over into Lebanon.