Syrian attacked US embassy in Beirut ‘in support of Gaza’: judicial official

A Syrian man was arrested after a shooting near the US embassy in Beirut on Wednesday and a judicial official said the assailant carried out the attack “in support of Gaza”.

The embassy in the capital’s northern suburb of Awkar “was subjected to gunfire by a person holding Syrian nationality”, the army said on X, formerly Twitter.

“Army personnel deployed in the area responded to the sources of fire, wounding the shooter,” the statement said, adding that “he was arrested and transported to hospital”.

The US embassy said on X that “small arms fire was reported in the vicinity of the entrance” and that “thanks to the quick reaction” of the Lebanese army, security forces “and our embassy security team, our facility and our team are safe”.

The judicial official told AFP that the gunman, who was wounded seriously, said he carried out the attack “in support of Gaza”, where Israel had launched a military offensive since 7 October, killing over 36,000 people – mostly women and children.

The shooter’s brother, who lives in Lebanon’s Bekaa valley in the country’s east, was also detained, the official added, requesting anonymity as they were not authorised to speak to the media.

In a separate statement, the embassy said it would remain closed to the public for the rest of the day “but plans to be open for general business as usual” on Thursday.

An AFP photographer said access to the area around the embassy was blocked off, with soldiers deployed heavily nearby.

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati spoke with army and security service officials who assured him “the situation is under control”, a statement from his office said.

“An investigation is underway to determine the circumstances of the incident and arrest all those involved,” the statement said, adding that US ambassador Lisa Johnson was currently outside Lebanon.

In September last year, a gunman opened fire at the US embassy, without causing casualties.

Lebanese police alleged the shooter was a delivery driver seeking revenge for his perceived humiliation by security personnel.

That shooting coincided with the anniversary of a deadly 1984 car bombing outside the US embassy annexe in Beirut, which the United States blamed on Hezbollah.

US diplomatic and military missions in Lebanon were attacked on a number of occasions during the 1975-1990 civil war when fighters also took several US captives.

The embassy relocated to Awkar after it was hit by an April 1983 suicide bombing that killed 63 people.

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