U.S. calls for credible probe into ‘overwhelming’ Beirut blast


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“We can’t trust this government. They will lie to us. They should form an international committee to investigate this,” said businessman Jimmy Iskandar.

President Michel Aoun has said a probe will look into whether the cause of the blast was negligence, an accident or “external interference.”

“They won’t do a thing in an investigation and the whole world knows that,” said painter Mohammed Khodr, as he helped repair a restaurant damaged in the blast.

The heavily armed, Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah, which is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, said on Friday it would wait for results of the official Lebanese investigation into the blast.

But if it turns out to be an act of sabotage by neighboring Israel then it would “pay an equal price,” Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised address. Israel has denied any role in the explosion.

Nasrallah said his group was against an international investigation because its first purpose would be to “distance Israel from any responsibility for this explosion, if it had responsibility.” He said the participation of the FBI in an investigation would serve the same purpose.

POLITICAL VACUUM

The explosion has pitched Lebanon into a new political vacuum since the resignation of the government, which had formed in January with backing of Hezbollah and its allies, including Aoun.

Lebanon’s most senior Christian cleric said the Lebanese people had run out of patience with ruling politicians.

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