Several rockets fired by unknown assailants exploded on Sunday, May 26, in the southern fringes of the Lebanese capital, Beirut, in areas considered a stronghold of the Shi’ite militant group Hezbollah. The attack wounded four people and there was no immediate claim of responsibility.
The rocket attack against a Beirut neighborhood considered to be a Hezbollah stronghold caused little physical damage and just a handful of injuries. It was, however, a psychological blow in a country increasingly divided by the sectarian war in neighboring Syria.
It was not immediately clear who fired the rockets. The Lebanese Army indicated it had found two rocket launchers in the hillside town of Aitat, overlooking the district that was attacked. Caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel was careful to avoid accusing anyone.
He says the goal of the attack was clearly to create a climate of confusion, but that it is impossible to accuse anyone of responsibility, given the state of instability the country is going through.
Lebanon’s caretaker Health Minister Hassan Khalil also tried to avoid pointing a finger of responsibility at anyone, as he spoke with reporters near the area which was attacked.
He says he hopes no one will try to suggest who carried out the attack on the basis of the town from which the rockets were fired, since those who are trying to destabilize the situation might have taken advantage of any possible security lapse.
Supporters and opponents of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad appeared to capitalize on the attack to take aim at their adversaries. A senior member of Hezbollah, Hashim Safieddin, demanded the Lebanese government find who fired the rockets.
He calls the attackers cowards and insists it is the Lebanese government’s responsibility to find out who is funding, supporting, and training those who carried out the attack.
Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah gave a fiery speech Saturday in which he blasted Sunni fundamentalists fighting the Syrian government and vowed to prevent the Assad regime from falling. He also defended his group’s stockpile of arms, claiming the Lebanese army is incapable of protecting the nation’s own citizens.
Former Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, for his part, called Hezbollah an “Iranian tool” and accused Sheikh Nasrallah of “trying to drag Lebanon into the Syrian quagmire.”
Hezbollah has been heavily involved in bitter fighting over the Syrian rebel-held town of Quseir in recent days. Lebanese media reports say the group has suffered dozens of casualties in the battle.