Twin Blasts Hit Beirut, Lebanon’s Capital
Deadly twin blasts rocked the southern Beirut yesterday. They killed at least 43 people and wounded scores of civilians.
According to media report, the blasts struck the southern Beirut minutes apart wounding more than 200 hundred people.
The first suicide attacker blew himself up by detonating his explosive vest outside a Shiite mosque. The other deadly blast was perpetrated by another suicide attacker who blew himself up inside a nearby bakery.
Reports say the notorious Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks in the Mediterranean country as posted on social media pages.
These attacks are not something new in the country as a spillover of violence from neighbouring Syria has also triggered sectarian tension in Lebanon.
At present, Lebanon hosts more than 1.1 million Syrian refugees which is said to be equivalent to a quarter of the country’s entire population.
US Condemns Terrorist Attack
In a press statement in Washington DC, Deputy Department Spokesperson Mark C. Toner said the United States strongly condemns the terrorist attack on civilians in the Burj Barajneh neighborhood of Beirut, Lebanon.
“We extend our deepest condolences to the Lebanese people, particularly the families of the victims, and wish a swift recovery to the wounded.” – Mr. Toner
According to Mr. Toner, the attacks are undermining the freedom and security that the people of Lebanon have worked so hard to achieve.
He further highlighted that the U.S. fully supports the Lebanese authorities as they conduct their investigation into this act of terror.
“The United States reaffirms its commitment to Lebanon’s security.” – Mr. Toner
Hezbollah Is Dragging the Lebanese People Into a War
The presence of Hezbollah and its alliance to the Assad regime has resulted in more conflict, more acts of terror, and more potential instability for Lebanon.
Hezbollah’s participation in the war in Syria has also helped to draw foreign fighters both Shia and Sunni to Syria which heightened the risk of radicalized fighters bringing terror back to their home countries.
In addition, extremists fighting the Assad regime and its Hezbollah backers have brought that fight inside Lebanon, resulting in more deaths.
How US Responds to Lebanon’s Security Challenges
Highlighting its condemnations to Hezbollah’s attacks, the United States pledged its commitment to assist Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and Internal Security Forces who acted to maintain internal security.
The LAF is currently undertaking a major operation in the northern city of Tripoli to help end politico-sectarian clashes and calm tensions.
The security forces are also deploying to the northern and central Bekaa to calm tensions there.
The US provides support to the LAF and the ISF and they intend to build their capacities to thwart violent extremists and criminal organizations and to ensure security throughout the country, including control along its borders.
In addition, the US seeks to increase this assistance in order to modernize the LAF, and in particular to provide training and equipment to help defend its borders with Syria.
The assistance includes enhancing LAF’s capabilities to assert control over Lebanese territory.
Since 2007, the U.S. government has provided basic and specialized training for over 8,000 ISF members.
The US is also helping to increase ISF effectiveness through training in modern policing practices, in order to enable the ISF to better maintain internal security.
Saudi Arabia has committed to provide $3 billion in assistance to the LAF.
Mr. Silverman highlighted that international assistance to the LAF can help build up the capabilities the LAF needs as well.
Terrorism Looms in Lebanon
Extremists fighting the Assad regime and Hezbollah supporters have brought their fight inside Lebanon through a wave of deadly terrorist attacks that have killed and injured scores in Beirut and other cities.
The incidence of terrorism has also increased and threatens the security situation in Lebanon with the ongoing dangers from Hezbollah’s support for the Assad regime and the flow of violent extremists, whether they be from the al-Nusra front version in Lebanon, the Islamic state of Iraq in the Levant and the Abdullah Azzam Brigades.
In addition, Lebanon hosts more Syrian refugees than any other country in the region, 940,000 or more. With this number of refugees, there is not a single Lebanese community that has not been affected by the refugee crisis.