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Izvestia: Who is behind the deadly blast in Beirut

Terrorists seeking to do away with former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri ahead of a verdict in a trial of the killing of his father could be behind the blasts that rocked Beirut on Tuesday. According to another version, the cause of the tragedy lies in tensions on the border with Israel, said experts interviewed by Izvestia. The first explosion occurred in the Lebanese capital’s port, where, according to preliminary reports, explosives detonated at a storage facility. Fifteen minutes later, another, much bigger blast took place close to Hariri’s residence in the city center. Reports say that hundreds were killed and up to 3,000 people suffered injuries.

Political scientist Roland Bidzhamov believes that the blasts could have been carried out in order to frame the pro-Iranian Hezbollah group as it is what both domestic and foreign players – including the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel – are interested in. “The situation comes amid a deep political and economic crisis in Lebanon. In fact, the country has come to the brink of civil war, just like it was in the mid-1970s,” the expert explained.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri stepped down last fall following mass protests in Beirut and Tripoli, and the country’s parliament backed Hassan Diab, a compromise candidate, for prime minister.

However, once the coronavirus pandemic started to decline in mid-April, the Lebanese people took to the streets once again, protesting against economic reforms urged by the International Monetary Fund.

Meanwhile, the Al-Hadath TV channel has reported that the Israeli air force carried out airstrikes on military warehouses in Beirut port, which could have been used for storing Iranian weapons.

Israeli military expert Yakov Kedmi explained that Israel did not have a reason to carry out missile strikes on Beirut port because no benefit would come from an attack on a peaceful commercial port. “Beirut port’s warehouses may pose a threat only if they are involved in weapons supplies from Iran. But even in this case, no one would have used such a method to destroy them,” the expert emphasized.

The damage caused by the deadly explosion in the Beirut port area on Tuesday could be estimated at $3 bln -$5 bln, Beirut Governor Marwan Abboud told LBC TV channel.

According to the Beirut governor, ten firefighters sent to the accident scene were killed.

About 300,000 could be left homeless after the blast, the Beirut governor noted. “About 300,000 people displaced,” Al Arabiya news channel quoted the governor on its Twitter page.

A powerful blast rocked the Beirut seaport district near the Lebanese Navy’s base on August 4, sending a shockwave that ripped through residential areas of the Lebanese capital. The shockwave destroyed and damaged dozens of buildings and cars. Local authorities say the blast was caused by the detonation of 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, stored in the port after being confiscated by the customs services in 2015.

According to the latest data, more than 100 people were killed and nearly 4,000 others were injured. Since Wednesday, a two-week state of emergency has been in place in the Lebanese capital, which was declared a disaster-stricken city. The authorities announced that Wednesday would be a national day of mourning.

Header: A general view of the harbor area with smoke billowing from an area after a large explosion rocked the harbor area of Beirut, Lebanon, 04 August 2020. According to reports, several people have been injured and large area badly damaged. EPA-EFE/WAEL HAMZEH

Source: Izvestia, TASS, AGENCIES