At least 25 people, including an Iranian diplomat, were killed and 160 wounded in Beirut on Tuesday morning in a double bomb attack outside the Iranian embassy.
A group with links to al Qaeda took responsibility for the attack.
Initial investigations by the Lebanese security forces and evidence from embassy surveillance cameras appear to show that the first blast was caused by a suicide bomber riding a motorbike who detonated his explosives by the embassy’s outer perimeter. This was followed by a massive car bomb explosion a minute later.
It would seem that the sequence of detonations was designed to hit people rushing to, or being evacuated from, the embassy. At least two Iranian civilians were reported to have died in the blasts, one of whom was the embassy’s cultural attaché.
The Iranian embassy initially accused Israel of being behind the attack, and the Syrian government blamed the Saudis.
The group that eventually claimed responsibility, the Abdallah Azam Battalions, is aligned with al Qaeda and has carried out attacks against other Shia targets in Lebanon in retaliation for the assistance that Iran and Hizbollah are giving the Assad regime. According to the Twitter account of one of the group’s leaders, attacks on Shia targets will continue until Iran and Hizbollah pull out of Syria.
The embassy in Beirut is seen as a command centre for the Shia movement as well as officers of the Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.