THE LEVANT NEWS — BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil Saturday urged the international community not to waste time in confronting “terrorism,” saying the recent ISIS-claimed attacks in Beirut and Paris that occurred one day apart may be linked.
“Terrorists brazenly targeted Lebanon and Paris within a short time of each other. The timing of the attacks wasn’t a complete coincidence,” Bassil said at a meeting of foreign ministers in Vienna who gathered to discuss solutions to the Syrian crisis.
Bassil said the “nature of the two crimes and their timing, which is few days after the Russian airplane incident and ahead of today’s meet, confirm that they (militants) are sending us a message that terrorism is capable of waging wars and coordinating systematic attacks at the same time wherever they want.”
He warned that extremists are “seeking to spread chaos through their barbaric acts that only lead to the killing of innocent people and their migration,” deeming it an attempt to “eliminate diversity and pluralism and stir chaos.”
“They are trying to tell us that they don’t fear us and that they want to make us weak… They are threatening us not to end the conflict in Syria because this war is the chaos that they want to continue.”
He called on the foreign ministers to defend their beliefs by seizing the opportunity to eliminate “terror.”
“We are sovereign countries and states that should defend their people and world peace… We shouldn’t let things continue the way they are.”
“Why are we wasting time in arguing on details while danger is hovering over our heads in a terrifying way?” Bassil asked, calling for clear steps “beyond words” to depict serious efforts in fighting extremism.
“Ending the conflict in Syria has become an urgent necessity if we want to strike the orbit that created ISIS and terrorism,” he added.
“The will of those terrorists will intensify if we left this meeting divided and trade blame instead of courageously standing united against this cancer.”
Paris witnessed multiple gun and suicide attacks Friday night that President Francois Hollande said killed at least 127 people, a day after Lebanon’s Beirut suburb of Burj al-Barajneh was hit by twin suicide bombings that killed 46. Both attacks, in which hundreds more were wounded, were claimed by ISIS.
Bassil called for stability in Syria “which will reflect positively on Lebanon,” highlighting the large influx of Syrian refugees to Lebanon as a source of concern.
“Some terrorists enter Lebanon under the pretext of being refugees, and the last suicide attacks are a right example of that,” he said, although the identities of those who carried out the Beirut bombings have not yet been revealed.
“We should exert efforts to return Syrian refugees to Syria.”
Lebanon’s State Prosecutor Samir Hammoud Saturday said that one of the suicide bombers who carried out the Beirut attack was Syrian, but his name and residency status were not announced.
A judicial source told The Daily Star that the second suicide bomber, who had been wearing an explosive belt, was the one identified, although he would not release the name.