Rockets hit Beirut, stirring fear of Syria conflict spillover

A Lebanese army officer stands next to a damaged car as he asks journalists to step back from the scene where a rocket struck a used car lot at the Mar Mikhael district of south Beirut on Sunday.
(Ahmad Omar / Associated Press)

BEIRUT--A pair of rockets slammed into the southern reaches of Beirut early Sunday, raising fears that spillover violence from the conflict in neighboring Syria could be spreading to the Lebanese capital.

Four men were injured but none killed in the rocket strikes, officials said. All the injured were Syrian laborers at a used car lot where one of the rockets struck. The other shell hit a nearby apartment building.
Authorities said the Grad rockets—known to be notoriously imprecise —were launched from an area about six miles away.

The attacks targeted a district where the Shiite militant group Hezbollah is a dominant force. That prompted speculation that the assault was linked to Hezbollah’s role supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad against a more-than-two-year uprising.


The rocket assault came a day after Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, gave a fiery speech vowing “victory” in Syria and pledging all-out support to Assad’s government. Many Sunni Muslims in Lebanon back the rebellion against Assad and resent Hezbollah’s intervention in the Syrian conflict.

Various Lebanese politicians condemned the attacks as an attempt to foment sectarian strife.

Until the Sunday morning strikes, Beirut had been largely immune from violence associated with the Syrian conflict. The northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, however, has seen a week of running gun battles between pro- and anti-Assad factions that have left at least 25 dead.


Hezbollah leader affirms support for Assad in Syria

Syria activists look to a grave for evidence against Assad

Israeli electric car start-up Better Place files for bankruptcy