BEIRUT: Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea accused the Syrian government Friday of assassinating a top security chief hours after a car bomb ripped through the central Beirut district of Ashrafieh.
Standing at the site of the explosion that left 8 dead and at least 90 wounded, Geagea said. “The Syrian regime along with its friends inside [Lebanon] and outside [are responsible for the blast].”
“Who else would it be?” the LF leader asked.
Around 2:50 p.m. a car bomb exploded near the bustling Sassine Square killing 8 including head of Information Branch Maj. Gen. Wissam Hasan and wounding at least 90.
The bomb, the first in Beirut since 2008, raised fears of a possible return to political assassinations that have plagued the country since 2005.
Geagea added that Hasan was targeted because his office helped uncover a bomb plot which former Minister Michel Samaha has been implicated in.
“Is there anything more obvious that would identify who is behind this terrorist explosion?” Geagea asked.
“Who are the tools of the Syrian regime inside [Lebanon]? Should we kid ourselves and accuse the American and Israeli intelligence? Who is responsible for the tens of assassinations targeting the March 14 coalition?” he asked.
Meanwhile, the opposition March 14 coalition accused Syria of being behind Friday’s explosion.
March 14 coordinator Fares Soueid pointed a finger at Syrian President Bashar Assad.
“Assad has repeatedly threatened to set fire to the region if the noose tightened on him,” Souaid told a local television station.
Future Movement MP Nohad Mashnouq said the Ashrafieh explosion “is a message from the collapsing Syrian regime to terrorize Lebanese.”
Wehbi Qatisha, the advisor to Lebanese Forces head Samir Geagea, said the blast aimed at undermining Lebanon’s stability.
“Lebanon has been threatened by the Syrian regime for more than a year and a half,” Qatisha said.
Kataeb party MP Nadim Gemayel also said Syria was behind the explosion.
“The blast serves the political and security interest of the Syrian regime,” Gemayel said by telephone from Paris.
Meanwhile, Pro-Syrian MP Speaker Nabih Berri’s parliamentary bloc described the explosion as a “terrorist attack.”
“The blast is a terrorist act aimed at all the Lebanese and not the region in which it took place,” MP Yassin Jaber said.
And the Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party blamed Israel for the explosion.
“The explosion bears the fingerprints of Israel,” the SSNP tweeted.