A woman walks past sandbags piled up in front of a jewellery shop in a stronghold of Shia group Hezbollah in the southern suburbs of Beirut yesterday. A wave of car bombings in Shia neighbourhoods has prompted local shopkeepers to step up security against further attacks.
BEIRUT: A man arrested last week has confessed to transporting suicide bombers and car bombs between Syria and Lebanon, including to Beirut, the Lebanese army said yesterday.
Omar Ibrahim Al Atrash, who was detained on January 22, admitted ties to three wanted individuals, as well as to the Al Qaeda-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and Al Nusra Front, a statement said.
The Abdullah Azzam Brigades is a Lebanon-based group that has claimed responsibility for bombings and rocket fire there, and the others are jihadist groups fighting in Syria.
Atrash “admitted to transporting car bombs to Beirut” after receiving them from a Syrian, as well as “transporting suicide bombers of different Arab nationalities into Syria and handing them over to the Nusra Front,” the statement said.
He also admitted transporting two suicide bombers who were killed in the southern Lebanese city of Sidon in a gunfight with soldiers in December, the statement said, giving no further details.
The army said two of the car bombs transported by Atrash had blown up, but it did not specify where.
Lebanon has been rocked by a string of bomb attacks in recent months, with three in January alone.
Many have targeted strongholds of the powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah, which has drawn the ire of Sunni extremist groups in part because of its role fighting alongside the regime in Syria.
Though the group appears to be the target of the attacks, those killed in the bombings have largely been civilians.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and the Abdullah Azzam Brigades have both claimed responsibility for deadly bombings in Lebanon.
A group calling itself the Al Nusra Front in Lebanon has also claimed responsibility for two bomb attacks in the country, though it is unclear if the organisation is officially linked to the group of the same name in Syria.
The army said Atrash had also admitted to transporting four rockets from Syria that were fired at Israel from southern Lebanon in August.