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Lebanese Forces sniper alleged to have worked for US Embassy fuelling fears of interference

ONE of the suspected snipers who opened fire on an Amal and Hezbollah-organised demonstration in Beirut last Thursday allegedly works as a security official at the US embassy.

Prominent journalist Hosein Mortada claimed in a social media post on Friday that Shurki Abu Saab was part of a group of gunmen accused of shooting dead at least seven people.

Mr Mortada identified as Mr Saab in a photograph that appears to show him in a military-style uniform badged with the US flag, amid claims that he is an employee of the US embassy in the Lebanese capital.

The news has raised fears that Lebanon could become the latest arena for US interference, following Washington’s failure to dislodge Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

At least 19 people have been arrested in relation to the attack, which is believed to have been perpetrated by the Lebanese Forces, a notorious US-backed Christian fascist militia.

Snipers targeted demonstrators who joined the march in protest at what they say is the politicisation of a probe into last year’s Beirut port explosion, which killed more than 200 people.

The dead included Maryam Farhat, who was shot in the head as she was preparing to collect her five-year-old daughter from school, and delivery driver Ali Ibrahim.

Amal and Hezbollah supporters flooded the streets in response, opening fire on the suspected snipers despite appeals for calm.

Footage that has emerged since then appears to show a Lebanese soldier opening fire at random on protesters. The perpetrator has reportedly been arrested and is under interrogation.

Speaking at the funerals of some of the victims on Friday, senior Hezbollah figure Hashem Safieddine warned that the attack “was part of measures managed by the US embassy in Lebanon and funded by some Arab parties.”

The Lebanese Forces militia is known for two of the most horrifying atrocities of the country’s 1975-90 civil war — the Karantina massacre and the Sabra and Shatila massacre, during which thousands of Palestinian and Syrian refugees were brutally killed.

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea served 14 years in prison for ordering four political assassinations, including that of former prime minister Rashid Karami in 1988.

WikiLeaks documents revealed that in 2008 he told the US embassy in Lebanon that he had as many as 10,000 fighters prepared to take on Hezbollah and appealed for arms and munition.

Mr Geagea also made similar overtures to Saudi Arabia. Promising that he was willing to do whatever Riyadh demanded of him, he urged the reactionary Gulf state to fund him as the only force capable of fighting Hezbollah.

The Lebanese Communist Party warned last week that sectarian violence could plunge the country into another deadly civil war.

It also accused US and Israel of fuelling internal divisions as they seek to divide Lebanon to serve their own regional interests.

US Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, who happened to be in Beirut at the time of last Thursday’s attack, pledged an additional $67 million (£48.8m) to the Lebanese military in the aftermath of the shooting.

She was in Beirut to press the need for economic reforms and elections as a prerequisite for continued US support, including backing for a deal with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.


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