Syrian gunman wounded and arrested after attacking US embassy in Awkar


A Syrian was arrested after a shooting near the U.S. embassy in Beirut on Wednesday, the Lebanese army said, with the embassy saying its staff were safe.

The embassy, in the northern suburb of Awkar, "was subjected to gunfire by a person holding Syrian nationality," the army said in a statement on X, formerly Twitter.

"Army personnel deployed in the area responded to the sources of fire, wounding the shooter," the statement said, adding that "he was arrested and transported to hospital."

The army said it was investigating the shooting.

No motive was immediately clear. However, Lebanese media have published photos that appear to show a bloodied attacker wearing a black vest with the words “Islamic State” written in Arabic and the English initials “I” and “S.”

Local media reported that there was a gunfight involving at least one attacker and lasting almost half an hour. A video that surfaced on social media showed a gunman in a parking lot across the embassy's entrance shooting with what appears to be an assault rifle.

Joe Abdo, who works at a gas station near the compound said he heard “around 15 to 20 rounds of gunfire” while working that morning. “We ran here to see what’s happening and suddenly, the army blocked us from going up,” he told The Associated Press.

A Lebanese security official and two judicial officials familiar with the case said the gunman appeared to be a lone attacker. They identified him as a resident of the eastern Lebanese border town of Majdal Anjar near Syria. Earlier, the Lebanese military identified the suspect as a Syrian national.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not cleared to speak to the press.

The military raided both Majdal Anjar and nearby Suweiri, where they detained relatives of the suspect, but did not find other gunmen or evidence of a possible extremist cell, the officials added.

The suspect was shot in the stomach and leg before being captured and taken to the military hospital in Beirut, according to the officials.

The U.S. embassy said "at 8:34 am (0534 GMT)... small arms fire was reported in the vicinity of the entrance."

"Thanks to the quick reaction" of the Lebanese army, security forces "and our embassy security team, our facility and our team are safe," it said on X.

It added that "investigations are underway and we are in close contact with host country law enforcement."

An embassy spokesperson later said in a statement that one embassy security guard was injured in the attack.

“With respect to his privacy we cannot say more, but we wish him a full recovery,” said the spokesperson, who spoke on condition of anonymity in accordance with regulations.

An AFP photographer said access to the area around the embassy was blocked off, with a heavy army deployment in the area.

In images posted on social media, a man can be heard saying in Arabic "there's an attack on the embassy," as gunshots ring out in the background.

A judicial source told AFP that security forces were combing wooded areas near the embassy for any accomplices, adding that the shooter's wounds were "serious."

State Security and army intelligence agents later arrested the gunman's brother in the Bekaa town of Majdal Anjar, the National News Agency said, amid reports of raids in the Bekaa to arrest all those who had contact with the assailant.

Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati spoke with army and security service official who assured him "the situation is under control," a statement from his office said.

"An investigation is underway to determine the circumstances of the incident and arrest all those involved," the statement said, adding that U.S. ambassador Lisa Johnson was currently outside Lebanon.

In September last year, a gunman opened fire at the U.S. embassy, without causing casualties.

Lebanese police alleged the shooter was a delivery driver seeking revenge for his perceived humiliation by security personnel.

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