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A pair of suicide bombs detonated outside the Iranian Embassy in Lebanon's capital Tuesday, killing nearly two dozen people in a bloody new ripple from neighboring Syria's civil war.
Lebanon's Health Ministry said at least 23 people were killed and 147 wounded. Among the dead was Iran's cultural attache, Ebrahim Ansari, Iran's state-run news agency reported.
The victims also included two Iranian civilians who lived in a building close to the embassy, Lebanon's National News Agency reported.
The Abdullah Azzam Brigades, a Sunni jihadist group linked to al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the bombings via Twitter. The group warned that more attacks would come unless the Lebanese-based, Iranian-backed Shiite militia Hezbollah stops sending fighters to support Syrian government forces. It also demanded the release of the group's members being held prisoner in Lebanon.
The Lebanese army said one of the blasts was caused by a suicide bomber on a scooter, and the other was caused by a suicide bomber in an SUV. Stunned witnesses looked on as massive flames and pillars of black smoke leaped into the sky over Beirut, while fires burned out several cars parked on a nearby street.
At least six buildings were damaged, Lebanese Internal Security Forces said.
Max Foster speaks with Professor Naim Salem about why today's suicide bombings in Beirut are so significant.