Bush targets Iran, Syria in marking Beirut bombing anniversary
(dpa) - US President George W Bush singled out Iran and Syria as supporting terrorism and undermining democracy in Lebanon in a statement marking Friday's 25th anniversary of the bombing of the US embassy in Beirut.
"Since the Beirut attack, we and citizens of many countries have suffered more attacks at the hands of Hezbollah and other terrorists, backed by the regimes in Tehran and Damascus, which use terror and violence against innocent civilians," Bush said in Thursday's statement. "All nations should condemn such brutal attacks and recognize that the purposeful targeting of civilians is immoral and unjustifiable."
The bombing on April 18, 1983, killed 52 people - 35 Lebanese and 17 Americans - and was at that time the deadliest terrorist attack carried out against the United States. However, it set off a series suicide bombings against Americans overseas, including one six months later at a Beirut barracks that killed 241 US troops, 58 French servicemen and six civilians.
A group called the Islamic Jihad Organization claimed responsibility for both those attacks. The US government has said the group was a precursor of the Shiite Muslim movement Hezbollah.
Bush noted that Lebanon's people have been living with violence and intimidation for most of the past three decades. "Despite this, they and their leaders continue to work for a peaceful and democratic future, even as Syria, Iran, and their Lebanese proxies seek to undermine Lebanese democracy and institutions," he charged.
Bush added that his government would continue to support Prime Minister Fouad Seniora, whose Western-backed government is locked in a stand-off with the Hezbollah-led opposition over the election of a president to replace pro-Syrian Emile Lahoud, whose term ended in November.
"The United States will continue to stand with the Lebanese government and the Lebanese people as they struggle to preserve their hard-won sovereignty and independence, endeavour to provide justice for victims of terrorism and political violence, and continue to seek the election of a president committed to these principles," Bush said.