Syrian attacked US embassy in Beirut 'in support of Gaza'


The Syrian man who was arrested after a shooting near the U.S. embassy in Beirut on Wednesday has carried out the attack "in support of Gaza", a judicial official said.

A Lebanese national working for the embassy suffered light injuries to his eye after the assailant opened fire.

The gunman, who lived in east Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, carried out the attack "alone", said the official, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The Lebanese army later said in a statement that it had arrested five suspects in the case in the Bekaa region, including three relatives of the alleged shooter.

U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said it was aware the person arrested appeared to be wearing "ISIS insignia", referring to the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group.

The United States, he said, was "conducting a full investigation with the Lebanese authorities into the actual motivations".

- Investigation underway -

Images said to be of the bloodied attacker wearing a waistcoat that read "the caliphate" spread on social media. AFP was unable to immediately verify their authenticity.

The self-declared IS caliphate, established in 2014, spanned large parts of Syria and Iraq. The jihadist group was defeated in 2019 by international and Kurdish forces.

An AFP photographer said access to the area around the diplomatic mission was blocked off, with soldiers deployed heavily nearby.

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati spoke with army and security service officials 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.

The U.S. embassy said it would remain closed to the public for the rest of the day "but plans to be open for general business as usual" on Thursday.

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

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

That shooting coincided with the anniversary of a deadly 1984 car bombing outside the U.S. embassy annexe in Beirut, which the United States blamed on Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah.

U.S. diplomatic and military missions in Lebanon were attacked on a number of occasions during the 1975-1990 civil war, when hardline Islamists also took several US hostages.

The embassy relocated to Awkar after it was hit by an April 1983 suicide bombing that killed 63 people.

Comments 1
Thumb 07 June 2024, 03:49

I fervently demand the immediate dismantling of this unwarranted US military base they call Embassy, a billion dollars colossal structure designed to house a formidable force of 1000 troops. Such installations not only sow seeds of discord and instability within Lebanon but also cast a looming shadow of turmoil across the entire region. It is appalling that the parliament was not consulted, and both the present administration and its predecessor ought to have vehemently voiced their dissent against this egregious encroachment.