Saudi Arabia condemns ‘cowardly’ Beirut attacks

Saudi Arabia expressed condolences to the families of the victims and the Lebanese government

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Saudi Arabia condemned the “cowardly terrorist bombings” that killed 23 people outside the Iranian embassy in the Lebanese capital Beirut on Tuesday, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Wednesday.

“An official source stated that the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia strongly denounces and condemns the cowardly terrorist bombings in the Lebanese capital Beirut yesterday,” SPA reported.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia extends condolences to the families of the victims and the Lebanese government and people, wishing all injured a speedy recovery,” the agency added.

Iran’s cultural attaché Brahim Ansari was killed in the attacks, one of the worst bombings to strike the Lebanese capital in years.

Lebanon-based al Qaeda-linked group, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, claimed responsibility and threatened further attacks unless Iran withdraws forces from Syria, where they have backed President Bashar al-Assad’s 2-1/2-year-old war against rebels.

In a Twitter post, Sheikh Sirajeddine Zuraiqat, the religious guide of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, said the group had carried out the attack. “It was a double martyrdom operation by two of the Sunni heroes of Lebanon,” he wrote.

Local Lebanese media broadcast live images of smoke billowing from the embassy building. Harrowing pictures of wounded people being carried from the scene of the blast were also broadcast.

The blasts occurred in an area considered a stronghold of the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, which is a main ally of Syrian President Assad in the civil war next door. It is not clear if the blasts are related to the Syrian civil war.

Speaking to Al Arabiya News on Tuesday, former Iranian President Abolhassan Banisadr condemned the deadly blasts, linking the attacks to the Syrian civil war.

“What is happening in Syria is an international war, all regional parties are involved. Iran, Lebanon and Turkey are heavily involved,” said the former president, who took office following Iran’s 1979 revolution.

“Such blasts can happen at any time and the Syrian and Lebanese people are the victims of this global war,” he added.

Iran’s foreign ministry, meanwhile, accused Israel of carrying out deadly double blasts.

The bombings were “an inhuman crime and spiteful act done by Zionists and their mercenaries,” ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said in remarks carried by the official IRNA news agency.

A Hezbollah MP blamed also a “Western-Israeli alliance” and regional powers that back radical Sunni Islamist “takfiri” groups for the bombings.

“The aim (of the attacks) is to advance the program of murder, sabotage and chaos, threatening national unity and targeting stability,” said Mohammad Raad, a Hezbollah MP.

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