The Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant, an al Qaeda branch in Syria, claimed credit for another suicide attack that targeted Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Yesterday’s suicide attack took place in Hermel, a city near the border with Syria in the Hezbollah-dominated Bekaa Valley. The suicide bomber detonated a Jeep Grand Cherokee at a gas station in the city, the Daily Star reported. Three people were killed and at least 23 more were wounded in the blast.
The Al Nusrah Front claimed credit for the attack in a statement that was released through its Twitter account, according to the SITE Intelligence Group. The al Qaeda group said that it executed the suicide attack in an effort to get Hezbollah to stop fighting on the side of President Bashar al Assad in the Syrian civil war.
“With the continuation of the crimes by the Party of Iran [Hezbollah] against our vulnerable people in our beloved al-Sham [Syria], and its insistence on sending more of its mercenaries to kill the Syrian people, it did not leave us a choice but to work to stop its massacres and reciprocate on its own ground in order to force it to revise its calculations,” the statement said.
Yesterday’s bombing in Hermel is the second in the city this year. On Jan. 16, a Nusrah Front suicide bomber killed five people in an attack near a government building during rush hour.
Al Qaeda groups operating in Lebanon have now executed four major suicide attacks and car bombings in Lebanon that targeted Iran and Hezbollah since mid-November 2013. The al Qaeda groups have advocated attacking Iranian and Hezbollah interests in Lebanon due to the former’s involvement in the Syrian civil war.
On Nov. 19, 2013, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades took responsibility for the suicide attack outside of the Iranian embassy in Beirut that killed 23 people, including Iran’s cultural attache. Just over a month later, Majid bin Muhammad al Majid, a Saudi jihadist who led the group, was captured and then died in custody shortly afterward. The Abdullah Azzam Brigades was established by one of Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s lieutenants.
And on Jan. 14, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham claimed credit for the Jan. 2 car bombing in Beirut that killed four people and wounded more than 70. The attack, which may have been executed by a suicide bomber, took place outside of Hezbollah’s political office in the neighborhood of Haret Hreik.
The ISIS described that attack as occurring “[a]t a time when the security efforts of the Islamic State were able to break the boundaries and penetrate the security system of the Rafidah [Shi’ite] Party of Satan [Hezbollah] in Lebanon, and to crush its strongholds in the heart of its home in what is called the security zone in the southern suburbs of Beirut on Thursday, 30 Safar 1435H [2 January 2014], in a first small payment from the heavy account that is awaiting those wicked criminals…”, according to a statement that was obtained and translated by SITE.