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Attack on US Embassy in Lebanon foiled, gunman captured after shootout

The Lebanese army thwarted an attack by a gunman on the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon on Wednesday morning in Beirut. 

The attack took place as tensions simmered in the tiny Mediterranean country, where months of fighting between Hezbollah militants and Israeli troops has displaced thousands along the border.

Local media reported that there was a gunfight involving at least one attacker and lasting almost half an hour at the U.S. diplomatic mission.

In a post on X, the Lebanese army said members wounded a Syrian national, who was arrested and taken to the hospital for treatment. Prior reporting had indicated that a gunman was killed, and that four gunmen in total were involved. A Lebanese security official and two judicial officials familiar with the case later told The Associated Press that it appeared to be the work of one gunman.

Lebanon’s state-sponsored National News Agency later reported that the State Security Directorate, in collaboration with the Directorate of the Army Intelligence, also arrested the brother of the shooting suspect accused of attacking the U.S. embassy during a swift operation in the village of Majdal Anjar. 

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Map of where the U.S. embassy in Lebanon is located outside Beirut

Gunmen opened fire outside the U.S. embassy in Lebanon.  (Fox News)

The U.S. Embassy, located in the suburb of Aukar, north of Beirut, said “small arms fire” was reported in the vicinity of its entrance around 8:34 a.m. local time, but that its facility and team were safe.

“Thanks to the quick reaction of host country security forces and our Embassy security team, our facility and our team are safe,” the U.S. Embassy wrote in a statement. “Investigations are underway, and we are in close contact with host country law enforcement. The Embassy will remain closed to the public for the rest of today, June 5, but plans to be open for general business as usual tomorrow, June 6.”

The embassy recommended U.S. citizens in Lebanon monitor Travel.State.Gov  “for alerts and the news closely for breaking developments that could affect internal security.”

“Investigations are underway and we are in close contact with host country law enforcement,” the embassy wrote earlier on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

A member of the embassy’s security team was wounded in the attack and the Lebanese army shot an attacker in the stomach, a security source told Reuters. The army is continuing to look through the area for other potential attackers.

The Lebanese military said it deployed troops around the embassy and surrounding areas.

Lebanese special forces after U.S. embassy attack

Lebanese special forces sit in their vehicle as they patrol on a road that leads to the U.S. Embassy in Aukar, a northern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, June 5, 2024. A gunman was captured by Lebanese soldiers after attempting to attack the U.S. Embassy near Beirut on Wednesday, the military said.  (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

The motives for the attack were not clear but Lebanese media published photos that appear to show a bloodied attacker wearing a black vest with the words “Islamic State” written in Arabic and the English initials “I” and “S.”

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Lebanese security stand guard

Lebanese security stand guard on a road that leads to the U.S. Embassy in Aukar, a northern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, June 5, 2024. (AP)

The embassy is located in the suburb of Aukar, north of Beirut, in a highly secured zone with multiple checkpoints along the route to the entrance. It moved there from Beirut after more than 60 people were killed in a suicide attack in 1983.

In September, Lebanese security forces detained a Lebanese man who opened fire by the U.S. Embassy. No casualties were reported in that attack.

Lebanese soldiers

A gunman was captured by Lebanese soldiers after attempting to attack the U.S. Embassy near Beirut. (AP)

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The following month, hundreds of protesters clashed with Lebanese security forces in pro-Palestinian demonstrations near the U.S. Embassy amid the war between Hamas terrorists and Israeli forces.

A travel advisory already in place before the embassy attack said U.S. citizens should avoid travel to the Lebanon-Israel border area, the Lebanon-Syria border area, and refugee settlements. “In all parts of Lebanon, you should avoid demonstrations and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings or protests,” the advisory says. 

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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