Blasts Kill 23 at Iranian Embassy in Lebanon

Two separate explosions in an attack on Tuesday at the Iranian Embassy in Beirut have killed 23 people while injuring dozens, said the Health Ministry in Lebanon.

Cars were ablaze and buildings damaged, but it remained unclear if any of the victims had been diplomatic personnel from Iran.

Around the embassy is the area of Bir Hassan, which is populated mostly by Shiite Muslims. The area also has the offices for the Amal Party, a Shiite party that is a Hezbollah ally. Hezbollah is a militant group in Lebanon that is sponsored by the government of Iran, which has militia forces in Syria fighting against the rebels alongside government forces.

No immediate claims were made of responsibility for the blasts, which are forming a pattern of more sectarian division throughout the region due to Syria’s civil war.

News reports and residents said the two explosions had targeted the Iranian Embassy’s three story building and damaged six other buildings inside the embassy compound.

It was also still unknown whether it was a car bomb or rocket fire that hit the compound.

Images on television showed many charred bodies in the street that was strewn with rubble. Bystanders could be seen running away in panic.

Manar, which is a television broadcaster and aligned to Hezbollah, reported the attack started when a bomb in a car exploded just yards from the embassy. A motorcycle that was being driven into the compound following the first bomb blast, exploded prior to reaching the embassy.

Manar’s account was the same as other news reports that said one of the blasts blew out the main gate to the compound.

Workers inside a restaurant that was about 100 yards away said two explosions had taken place with the second much more stronger than the first.

This attack followed blasts earlier in both July and August against targets of Hezbollah in the southern stronghold of Beirut.

The explosions came at a time when the government in Syria was pressing a three front offensive in the suburbs south of Damascus.

Lebanon has over 1 million Syrian refugees in a country with only four million residents.

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