Thousands of people gathered Sunday in central Beirut to attend the funeral of General Wissam al Hassan, who was killed Friday in a car bombing attack in the district of Achrafieh. The Lebanese army has deployed forces throughout the capital and vehicles could not reach the center of the city, including the Place des Martyrs where Hassan was to be buried.
The opposition Future Movement accuses Syria of standing behind the killing. Popular anger was also addressed to the Prime Minister Najib Miqati, accused of being too close to the pro-Iranian Hizbullah movement and Syrian regime. “We are here to tell Miqati that we do not need him,” said one protester.
The funeral procession was starting from the headquarters of the internal security forces where Hassan served as its chief, and then headed to the scene of the attack, before arriving at the Place des Martyrs.
The dead General will be buried alongside the former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri who was also killed in a suicide car bombing on the Beirut seafront in 2005.
On his part, French Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius spoke Sunday on the “probable” involvement of Damascus in the Friday’s attack. “We do not yet know exactly who is behind this, but there are indications that it is an extension of the Syrian tragedy,” said Fabius. “I think it is an extension of what is happening in Syria, which makes it even more necessary to see the departure of Bashar al Assad.”
For his part, Samir Geagea, a Christian political leader opposed to Syrian regime, called for the suspension of all military and security agreements with Syria and the expulsion of the Syrian ambassador to Beirut. “The situation is fragile,” said a Western diplomat fearing a return to instability in the country and recalling the death of Rafik Hariri whose murder was followed by a wave of assassinations.
“I do not know if this is the first in a series of attacks, but history suggests that this may be the case,” he added.