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Syrian War Spreading to Lebanon: Key Anti-Assad Intelligence Officer Killed in Bombing

It’s really happening now: the war in Syria is spilling over into Lebanon. A massive car bomb exploded in the Christian neighborhood of Ashrafieh in Beirut, killing Lebanese senior intelligence official Wissam Al-Hassan and seven others and wounding about 80. The New York Times:

The security official, Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan, was apparently the intended target of the explosion, which ripped into buildings, upended cars and shattered windows for blocks in the most serious bombing to hit Beirut in at least four years. He was officially declared dead a few hours after the blast in an announcement on Lebanese television.

The identities of the other victims were not immediately clear, and there was no word on who was behind the blast, which the authorities said had been caused either by a car bomb or a bomb hidden in the street or under a vehicle parked in the affluent Sassine area, about two blocks from a gleaming shopping center. It exploded midafternoon just as the school day was ending.

Wissam Al-Hassan was most recently responsible for arresting former Member of Parliament Michel Samaha, who had close ties to Hezbollah and Assad in Syria. Hassan is also a close ally of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the son of assassinated Rafiq Hariri, who was killed  in 2005 by a car bomb, and a leader of the investigation that fingered Hezbollah and Syria in Hariri’s death.

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