Last updated: 5 February, 2014

Lebanon Sunni sheikh charged over suicide bombings

A Lebanese military court has charged a Sunni Muslim sheikh in connection with two suicide bombings in southern Beirut last month that killed at least six people, the ANI news agency reported Wednesday.

Judge Saqr Saqr charged Omar Ibrahim al-Atrash and five others with the bombings in Hart Hreik, a stronghold of the Shiite Muslim group Hezbollah.

Lebanon has been rocked by a string of bomb attacks in recent months, with three in January alone.

Many have targeted strongholds of Hezbollah, which has drawn the ire of Sunni extremist groups in part because of its role fighting alongside the regime in Syria.

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 (ISIL) and Al-Nusra Front, the army said at the time.

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 army 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 Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and the Abdullah Azzam Brigades have both claimed responsibility for deadly bombings in Lebanon.

The army said Atrash had also admitted to transporting four rockets from Syria that were fired at Israel from southern Lebanon in August and claimed by the Abdullah Azzam Brigades.