At least 50 people were wounded Tuesday morning as a car bomb ripped through a Hezbollah stronghold in south Beirut.
The bomb went off in the poor, largely Shiite area of Dahiyeh, near a boulevard named after the Iran-backed terror group’s leader Hassan Nasrallah. The area was full of shoppers preparing for the start of the fast month of Ramadan on Wednesday.
Sunni forces battling the Shiite group in Syria have vowed to strike back in Lebanon. Witnesses were quick to blame them:
It was unclear who was behind Tuesday’s blast but residents were quick to blame Sunni Muslim militants.
Hajje Alia, a 35-year-old woman clad in a floor-length black robe, said: “We have been expecting explosions in this holy month of Ramadan from the Takfiris (Sunni militants) who are trying to stop us from carrying out our Jihad (Holy war) duties alongside our Syrian brothers, but nothing will stop us, not even 1,000 explosions.”
Another woman, Um Ali Jaber, 60, who lives in a building opposite the blast said: “We expected the Takfiris to carry out an attack against us at the start of Ramadan.”
Hezbollah sought to blame Israel for the explosion, and only allowed its own al-Manar television station access to the scene of the bombing.
The attack comes against the background of rising sectarianism in Lebanon as a spillover effect from the two-year old Syrian civil war. Hezbollah is a close ally of the Syrian regime and has committed thousands of fighters to battle the mostly Sunni rebels, who, in turn, are supported by their coreligionists across the Middle East.
On Sunday, the London-based pan-Arab daily Asharq Alawsat reported that some Lebanese Shiites, particularly in the Bekaa Valley abutting Syria, are asking the movement’s leadership to roll back its involvement in Syria’s war. According to the report, the unpopularity of Hezbollah’s participation in the Syrian civil war has prompted some in the organization’s leadership to reconsider its role in the fighting.
All reports indicate, however, that Hezbollah remains fully committed to its alliance with Assad.
Below: Images from the bombing’s aftermath from Lebanon’s Al-Jadid TV (audio unavailable):
[Photo: Euronewsss / YouTube]