Beirut is counting the dead and cleaning up the carnage in the wake of a double suicide bombing that has caused more than 160 casualties including at least 22 dead. The blast took place in an area near the Iranian Embassy in the Lebanese capital. Suicide bombers are presumed to have brought the carnage to the Iranian Embassy in retaliation for Iran’s continued support of Hezbollah. The Lebanese group of fighters has been actively supporting leader Bashar al-Assad in the raging Syrian conflict.
The attacks appear to be the latest manifestation of the crusade to unite Islam that has intensified since the invasion of Iraq nearly a decade ago. Most recently, the Sunni-Shia sectarian violence has come to a head in the Syrian civil war, of which these Beirut bombings appear to be an extension. An al-Qaida affiliated jihadist group, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades has claimed responsibility for the bombings.
The Bir Hassan neighborhood, the area in which the bombings occurred, is no stranger to this type of violence. It is reported to have a concentrated Hezbollah presence, and has been targeting for violence at least twice in previous months. Hezbollah’s active support of government troops in the Syrian conflict has led this neighborhood in Beirut becoming a prime target for retaliation by Sunni-led opposition groups.
There have been conflicting reports as to the condition of the Iranian Diplomat Ibrahim Ansari. Initial reports stated that Ansari died in the attack, as a result of injuries sustained from the blasts. Later reports from the Iranian foreign ministry stated that Mr. Ansari survived and was alive. We are awaiting future status updates as to the condition of Mr. Ansari.
Beirut is no stranger to this type of violence, but it is the first time that suicide bombers have brought the carnage directly to the Iranian Embassy in Lebanon.
Hezbollah has already vowed retaliation for the bombings stating, “We tell those who carried out the attack, you will not be able to break us.” Security personnel are sifting through the remains and looking for survivors in all the rubble. The Iranians were quick to blame Israel for the bombings, calling it Zionist led action. Israel immediately denied the accusations, claiming it had no part in the action.
The suicide attack followed a familiar pattern seen often in operation such as the US-led invasion of Iraq nearly a decade ago. Reports state that the first bomb was carried to its destination by a motorcycle and detonated near the main gate of the Embassy. Only minutes after this first bomber executed his suicide attack, a second suicide bomber drove and detonated a car filled with more than 100 pounds of explosives into an area just a few meters away.
This has been a common tactic used in insurgent warfare. One lead bomber will attempt to break down the defenses near the entrance of a secured compound, and while individuals are either attempting to respond to the carnage or reinforce the defenses, a second bomber will hit the same location with a larger payload in an attempt to maximize the damage inflicted. These latest bombing in Beirut, which have brought the carnage to the doorsteps of the Iranian Embassy, are one of the deadliest that have happened in the Middle East thus far. In the ongoing Sunni-Shia sectarian conflict that appears unquenchable, there is no doubt that these latest attacks will throw fuel on an already raging fire.
By Daniel Worku