Lebanon News

France says Syria probably behind Ashrafieh bombing

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius adjusts his headphones during a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq)

BEIRUT: French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Sunday that Syria was probably involved in a Beirut car bombing Friday that killed Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan, a top anti-Damascus security official.“It is likely ... Everything indicates that this is an extension of the Syrian tragedy,” Fabius told French television, accusing Syrian President Bashar Assad of spreading his country’s conflict beyond its borders.

“I wish to express how much we condemn this dreadful attack, how much we are in solidarity with the Lebanese people and government,” Fabius said.

He called Assad a “manipulator” who wanted to spread the “contagion to Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.”

Friday’s bombing killed at least three people, including Hasan who headed the information branch of the Internal Security Forces.

The French foreign minister also said Lebanon’s powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah, which is closely allied to Assad’s regime, was involved in the Syrian unrest.

“Hezbollah is in the Lebanese government and we don’t see much of their role,” he said. “But their presence in the conflict has been apparent in the past few days, such as the drone which overflew Israel.”

On Oct. 6, a drone sent by Hezbollah managed to enter Israeli airspace before being shot down near a nuclear reactor.

Fabius said that Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran, wanted to “demonstrate more clearly” their support for Assad’s regime, adding: “We cannot accept that.”

Hezbollah leader Sayed Hasan Nasrallah had boasted that his group sent the sophisticated unmanned drone and said the device was built by the Jewish state’s arch foe Iran.

Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Saturday called Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati to express his “strong solidarity” with the Lebanese people after a deadly car bombing in Beirut.

“The secretary-general offered his deepest condolences for the loss of life, and noted he had issued a strong statement on the attack,” the U.N. said in a statement.

Ban “expressed strong solidarity with the people of Lebanon and commended the prime minister, the government and the president for their handling of the matter,” it added.

Separately, the spokesperson of the Free Syrian Army vowed in comments Sunday that Syria’s rebels will launch a series of operations to “avenge” killings targeting people in Syria and Lebanon.

In comments to the London-based Ash-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper, Louay al-Moqdad said the operations would be dubbed “Operations of wrath for Syria and Lebanon.”

Moqdad said the Future Movement of Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri offered humanitarian and political assistance to the Syrian opposition forces “at a time when the entire world abandoned the Syrian people who are being slaughtered daily.”

Meanwhile, several Arab Gulf countries also over the weekend condemned the bombing.

“Saudi Arabia denounces such a criminal act that targeted Lebanon’s stability and Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan,” the Saudi Press Agency quoted an official source as saying Saturday.

The source also blasted the bombing Friday in the Beirut neighborhood, saying it contravened “Islamic and moral values and principles and lacked any humanity.”

Saudi Arabia, according to the source, also urged the need for an investigation and that the identity of the perpetrators be uncovered.

Separately, the Kuwait News Agency quoted a senior Foreign Ministry official as denouncing the “cowardly bombing” that took place in Beirut.

“Kuwait will always stand by Lebanon in what preserves the citizen’s stability and security,” the official said.

A United Arab Emirates official meanwhile Friday condemned the “cowardly, terrorist bombing” and said the Gulf country stood ready to assist Lebanon preserve its security and stability.

“The UAE condemns this cowardly, terrorist bombing and stresses its position to stand beside Lebanon and is ready to assist in securing all means of preserving its security and stability,” State Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Qarqash was quoted by the Emirates WAM news agency as saying.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 22, 2012, on page 2.




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