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Iran Warns Against Politicising Deadly Beirut Blast

© AP Photo / Hassan AmmarRescue teams scan the Mediterranean Sea on the site of this week's massive explosion in the port of Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, 7 August 2020. The UN human rights office is calling for an independent investigation into the deadly explosion, insisting "victims' calls for accountability must be heard."
Rescue teams scan the Mediterranean Sea on the site of this week's massive explosion in the port of Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, 7 August 2020. The UN human rights office is calling for an independent investigation into the deadly explosion, insisting victims' calls for accountability must be heard.  - Sputnik International
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As an investigation continues into the deadly explosion that took place on 4 August in Beirut, killing over 150 and injuring up to 6,000, French President Emmanuel Macron visited the city on Thursday, saying that “France will never let Lebanon go,” in a remark slammed as a “neocolonialist foray by a European leader”.

Iran has urged countries to refrain from politicising the deadly 4 August blast in Beirut, and called on Washington to remove sanctions against Lebanon.

"The blast should not be used as an excuse for political aims ... the cause of the blast should be investigated carefully," Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi told a televised news conference.

Iran supports Hezbollah, an armed Shi'ite Muslim group that is one of Lebanon's most powerful political forces. Hezbollah has been deemed a terrorist group by the US, and Washington has penalised it with sanctions.

Mousavi added that “if America is honest about its assistance offer to Lebanon, they should lift sanctions".

The remarks came as French President Emmanuel Macron was the first foreign head of state to visit the Lebanese capital in the wake of the disaster on Thursday. In reference to the visit, Mousavi said:

"Some countries have been trying to politicise this blast for their own interests."

As he pledged support to rebuild the city, ahead of a France-hosted international donors conference for Lebanon on Sunday, that subsequently pledged $298 million in assistance to rebuild devastated Beirut, his remark that “France will never let Lebanon go… The heart of the French people still beats to the pulse of Beirut” touched a raw nerve.

© AFP 2022French President Emmanuel Macron adjusts his protective mask as he visits the Gemmayzeh neighbourhood which has suffered extensive damage due to a massive explosion in the Lebanese capital, on August, 6. 2020.
Iran Warns Against Politicising Deadly Beirut Blast - Sputnik International
French President Emmanuel Macron adjusts his protective mask as he visits the Gemmayzeh neighbourhood which has suffered extensive damage due to a massive explosion in the Lebanese capital, on August, 6. 2020.

The French president was also reported to have vowed to establish a “new political pact” with Lebanon and gave the country’s government until 1 September to implement a spate of yet-unidentified reforms, not ruling out sanctions on Lebanese officials in case they stalled.

Critics were quick to denounce Macron’s moves as “neocolonialist” and “patronising”, referring to the time when Lebanon was administered by France after the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire a little over a century ago, becoming officially part of the French colonial empire.

The country was granted its independence in the 1940s.

Brutal Blast

Over 150 people were killed and 6,000 wounded in Tuesday's explosion in the Beirut port that levelled part of the city and left some 300,000 people homeless.

The cause of the incident, which is estimated to have caused as much as $15 billion in damage, remains unclear.

© AFP 2022An aerial view taken on August 7, 2020, shows a partial view of the port of Beirut, the damaged grain silo and the crater caused by the colossal explosion three days earlier of a huge pile of ammonium nitrate that had languished for years in a port warehouse, leaving scores of people dead or injured and causing devastation in the Lebanese capital. The city of Beirut can be seen in the background.
Iran Warns Against Politicising Deadly Beirut Blast - Sputnik International
An aerial view taken on August 7, 2020, shows a partial view of the port of Beirut, the damaged grain silo and the crater caused by the colossal explosion three days earlier of a huge pile of ammonium nitrate that had languished for years in a port warehouse, leaving scores of people dead or injured and causing devastation in the Lebanese capital. The city of Beirut can be seen in the background.

Amidst the probe into the incident in a country mired in a deepening economic crisis and mass protests against perceived corruption and mismanagement, the developments ignited anti-government sentiment, with angry protests filling the streets of the capital.

The probe into the blasts sparked a political conflict, with President Michel Aoun and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah urging an internal investigation; opposition forces seek an international inquiry. An estimated 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate stored in one of the port’s warehouses which had been brought to the city in a derelict ship in 2013 have been implicated in the deadly incident.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Friday indicated that there were "two possible scenarios for what happened: it was either negligence or foreign interference through a missile or bomb".

On 9 August US President Donald Trump called for a thorough and transparent investigation into the blast, and offered to help Lebanon carry out the probe, special assistant to the president Judd Deere announced.

Previously Trump suggested the possibility that the explosion was a "terrible attack" and not an accident.

Rescue workers and material aid have been rushed to Lebanon in the wake of the catastrophe from countries around the world, including Russia, China, Iran, the United States, Turkey and the European Union.
On Sunday, world leaders and participants at a virtual donors' conference pledged $298 million in assistance to rebuild the devastated city of Beirut.

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