icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm

Twin blasts rock Beirut Hezbollah stronghold (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

Two explosions in the southern part of the Lebanese capital have injured at least five people, state news reported. The attack on the Hezbollah-controlled district comes hours after the movement's chief pledged to support the Syrian government.

The blasts came after two rockets were launched in Beirut early in the morning, witnesses said. A third rocket that launched but did not explode was found by security forces in a valley southeast of Beirut, local media report.

One of the rockets struck a car dealership, wounding Syrians who were sleeping at the shop. Another projectile hit a nearby balcony.

The rockets were fired from an area east of the neighborhood, Caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel told the media. The official said the attack was an attempt to heighten tensions in the already-disturbed country.

A rocket launcher was discovered in a forested area near the town of Aitat in Aley district in the approximate area from which the rockets were likely fired, local media reported.

Voice of Lebanon radio (LBCI) said the rockets came from a Grad multiple rocket launcher. The report says the projectiles were 107mm caliber, while the Soviet-made BM-21 Grad is 122mm. The Chinese-made Type 63, which has a towed launcher as opposed to Grad’s truck-mounted one, is 107mm.

Residents inspect the remain of one of the two rockets that hit their residential area in Beirut suburbs May 26, 2013 (Reuters / Mohammed Azakir)

The Lebanese army has cordoned off the area to investigate the attack.

The Shiyyah neighborhood struck by the explosion has a strong Hezbollah presence. It is unclear who is behind the shelling, or whether the Lebanese militant movement was the actual target.

The attack came hours after Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said the movement has troops fighting in Syria helping the government of President Bashar Assad.

Lebanon has a considerable Sunni population that supports the rebel forces in Syria. The conflict over which side Beirut should support in its troubled neighbor's ongoing civil war has sparked violent clashes in Tripoli, Lebanon, on several occasions, the latest of which was on Sunday.

Members of Lebanese Red Cross treat a wounded man after two rockets hit his house in Beirut suburbs May 26, 2013 (Reuters / Mohammed Azakir)

‘Syrian rebels most likely suspects in Beirut attack’

Despite nobody taking responsibility for the attack on Beirut, Middle East affairs expert, Ali Rizk, believes that one of the factions of the Free Syrian Army could’ve well been behind the rocket strikes.  
“Some members of the Free Syrian Army denied [involvement in Beirut attack], however, three was one official, who said that Hezbollah, you known, its activities will lead to retroactions that would target Beirut, the northern city of Tripoli and Beirut’s international airports,”
he told RT.  “Perhaps, it’s an indicator that some of these Syrian armed opposition groups are indeed involved in what happened today. You have to remember that the Free Syrian Army isn’t one block. So, if one spokesman denies, there might very well be another opposition group, which also uses the title ‘Free Syrian Army’ could’ve been involved.”

The Beirut-based expert said it was also no coincidence that the bombings came right after Hezbollah leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, outlined the party’s support towards the Syrian government of Bashar Assad.   

“But I think most important of all is that we have to go back to what Hezbollah’s leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, said yesterday. Basically he declared that Hezbollah has entered a war with Al-Qaeda affiliates. That’s the very first time now when Hezbollah is entering into such a war. However, Sayyed Hassan also said that this was a war of self-defense because if they [the rebels] achieve progress in Syria than Hezbollah would be next in line for them. So, he said that this basically implied that this was a war of necessity against this people, and maybe what happened today was a response to Sayyed Hassan’s speech.”

Rizk stressed, that considering where the missiles landed, the attack wasn’t aimed at Hezbollah exclusively, but at the Lebanese population as a whole.   

“Let me just clarify that the area, in which the rockets impacted – it’s in southern Beirut, yes, southern Beirut does include the main headquarters or institutions of Hezbollah, but it’s not all of southern Beirut, which is Hezbollah’s buildings. There are many areas where Hezbollah has no presence in southern Beirut and one of those areas is the area, which was attacked today. One of the rockets even landed not far from the church and it lies on the border between southern Beirut and the Christian districts. So, obviously this isn’t an attack on a Hezbollah or a Hezbollah institution it’s clearly an act of terrorism against innocent civilians on an inhabited area. And I think it just goes to show you the nature of those groups, whom we are dealing with.”

Two men inspect their damage house after two rockets hit their area in a Beirut suburbs May 26, 2013 (Reuters / Mohammed Azakir)