Syrian Violence Spills Over into Lebanon
On October 19, a car bomb, believed to have targeted Lebanese Security Chief Gen. Wissam al-Hassan, exploded in Beirut killing him and at least 6 others. Deemed an act of terror, Syria has been implicated in the attack after al-Hassan led the high profile arrest of Michel Samaha, one of Bashar al-Assad‘s primary supporters and former Lebanese minister charged with planning terrorist attacks against Sunnis. According to Al-Jazeera correspondent Rula Amin, Hassan was said to have been “a key figure in supporting the armed opposition in Syria.” Victoria Nuland, U.S. Department of State spokesperson, condemned the car bombing as an act of terror, but would not address specifics, citing the importance of waiting for an official investigation by Lebanese officials. The Washington Post released a series of photos documenting the explosion.
In the Lebanese city of Tripoli, protesters fired guns and set up roadblocks in response to the bombing. According to CNN, even “prior to the bombing, there had been fighting in Syria near the Lebanese border. Clashes in Tripoli…between supporters and opponents of Syria’s government had also erupted.” Nuland said the U.S. is concerned over the “increasing tensions inside of Lebanon, particularly sectarian tensions…as a result of spillover from Syria.” Meanwhile, in the Syrian town of Maarat al-Noamam, Assad forces destroyed homes in an effort to retake the town after employing an alleged “hearts and minds” strategy that failed. Opposition-forces previously declared the village “liberated.”