Gunman tries to attack U.S. Embassy in Lebanon, military says

Beirut — A gunman was shot and captured by Lebanese soldiers after attempting to attack the U.S. Embassy Wednesday, the military said. The embassy is outside Beirut.

The attack took place as tensions continued to simmer in the tiny Mediterranean country, where months of fighting between Hezbollah militants and Israeli troops has displaced thousands along the border following years of political deadlock and economic hardship.

The Lebanese military in a statement said that soldiers shot an assailant, who they only described as a Syrian national. The gunman was taken to a hospital.

Lebanese police man a checkpoint near the U.S. embassy in Awkar
Lebanese police man a checkpoint near the U.S. Embassy in Awkar, Lebanon on June 5, 2024.

Mohamed Azakir / REUTERS

The shooters motives weren’t clear. However, Lebanese media have published photos that appear to show a bloodied attacker wearing a black vest with the words “Islamic State” written in Arabic and the English initials “I” and “S.” ISIS is also known as the Islamic State.

Local media reported that there was a gunfight for almost half an hour near the U.S. diplomatic mission in the suburb of Aukar, north of Beirut.

A Lebanese security official told The Associated Press there were four assailants, including one who drove the gunmen to the site and three who opened fire.

One shooter was killed, one escaped, and the third was wounded and detained by the Lebanese military. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not cleared to speak to the press.

Lebanese army says gunman opened fire at US Embassy in Beirut
Lebanese troops take security measures in the region after the army said a gunman tried to attack the U.S. Embassy outside Beirut.

Houssam Shbaro / Anadolu via Getty Images

The U.S. Embassy said small arms fire was reported near its entrance but the gunfire didn’t wound any of its staff members and that Lebanese troops and embassy security mobilized quickly.

A statement from Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s office said that he was informed following meetings with the defense minister and army commander that the situation was now stable and that serious investigations are underway.  

The Lebanese military said it deployed troops around the embassy and surrounding areas.

In 1983, a deadly bombing attack on the U.S. Embassy in Beirut killed 63 people.. U.S. officials blame the attack on the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

Following that attack, the embassy was moved from central Beirut to the Christian suburb of Aukar, north of the capital. Another bomb attack struck the new location on Sept. 20, 1984.

In September 2023, Lebanese security forces detained a Lebanese man who opened fire by the U.S. Embassy. There were no casualties in that attack.

In October 2023, hundreds of protesters clashed with Lebanese security forces in demonstrations near the U.S. Embassy in support of Gaza’s people and the militant group Hamas in its war with Israel.

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