Two suicide bombings rocked the Iranian Embassy in Beirut on Tuesday, killing at least 23 people, including an Iranian diplomat, and injuring more than 140. While there's been no official claim of responsibility, the attacks appear to be related to the ongoing civil war in neighboring Syria, where Iran has been a major supporter of President Assad's regime.
"We tell those who carried out the attack, you will not be able to break us," Hezbollah lawmaker Ali Mikdad told Al-Mayadeen TV, according to the Associated Press. "We got the message and we know who sent it and we know how to retaliate."
The blasts took place in the southern Beiruit neighborhood of Bir Hassan, which is heavily populated by Shiite Muslims. In addition to the Iranian embassy, it houses the headquarters of the Shiite Amal Party, which is an ally to Hezbollah and has sent part of its militia to fight in Syria. The predominately Shiite Iran, and its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, have been longtime supporters of Assad and his government forces, who have for the past two years been embroiled in a bloody civil war against, in large part, Saudi- and Qatar- supported Sunni rebels.
"Each of the terrorist attacks that strike in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq reek of petrodollars," a Syrian government statement said.
According to a Lebanese security guard who spoke to the Associated Press, a suicide bomber driving a motorcycle blew himself up at the gate of the Iranian mission. About two minutes later, a second suicide bomber in a car detonated 110 pound of explosives approximately 10 yards away.
Sheikh Ibrahim Ansari, the Iranian cultural attache to Lebanon, was killed in the blast, according to the Iranian ambassador, who also said the bombings took place on a street where Iranian diplomats and their families live.
This is the third bombing in Shiite-populated areas of Beirut this year. From the Associated Press:
"People aren't sacred anymore. We aren't safe," said a mechanic whose store windows were shattered by the blasts. He declined to be identified because he did not want to be seen as involved in sectarian tensions that have split the Lebanese over Syria's conflict.
"People fight outside (Lebanon), but send their messages through Lebanon. With bombs. It's their SMS service," he added.
[Image via AP]