Two rockets struck Beirut’s southern suburbs on Sunday, increasing concerns that the Syrian conflict is spreading beyond the country’s borders.
The rocket attack inside Lebanon’s borders came after the head of the Lebanese Shi’ite movement, Hezbollah, claimed it would keep fighting on the Syrian government’s side until the regime wins the war.
The attack was the first that reportedly targeted Hezbollah’s stronghold near Lebanon’s capital since the conflict began more than two years ago. Syria’s war has also heightened sectarian tensions in Lebanon.
Lebanese politics have long been divided into pro- and anti-Assad groups. However, Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria in the last week has escalated tensions. Clashes took place in the northern city of Tripoli, Lebanon and claimed at least 30 lives.
Hezbollah’s involvement has served to spread fear that the Syrian conflict could become a larger conflict between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims.
Sunday’s rockets hit Beirut’s largely Shi’ite district of Chiyah, which lies right next to Dahieh, Hezbollah’s home base. The first rocket struck a car sales yard, injuring four Syrians. The second rocket hit an apartment building nearby. It smashed into the living room and left the home covered in rubble and broken glass.
The rocket attack in Beirut came after Syria’s government stated it would attend international peace talks “in principle” that are being organized by the United States and Russia.
The talks are tentatively set for June in Geneva. The regime has said it believes the talks could end the bloody civil war, though Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem added, “No power on earth can decide on the future of Syria. Only the Syrian people have the right to do so.”
The United States has been urging for Assad’s opponents to unite together before the conference. However, the Islamist-dominated coalition has been held back by power struggles during ongoing talks in Istanbul.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Sunday’s rocket attack near Beirut.
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