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Bomb Blasts Kill 23 Near Iranian Embassy in Lebanon

Two bomb blasts near the Iranian embassy in Lebanon's capital have killed at least 23 people, including an Iranian diplomat.

Officials say the explosions Tuesday in southern Beirut were caused by a suicide bomber followed shortly by a car bomb, and wounded another 146 people.

Iran's ambassador to Lebanon identified the diplomat who was killed as cultural attache Sheikh Ibrahim Ansari.

An al-Qaida-linked group called the Abdullah Azzam Brigades claimed responsibility for the bombings, and threatened to carry out more attacks until Iran pulled its forces out of Syria.

The explosions rocked an area of Beirut that is a stronghold of the Iranian-backed, Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah, and where at least two other bombing attacks have hit this year.

Hezbollah has been helping to fight rebels in neighboring Syria, which is another of the group's main backers. The Syrian government condemned Tuesday's attack.



Last week, Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah pledged to keep the group's fighters in Syria as long as necessary as forces there battle rebels trying to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

Lebanon's health minister Ali Hassan Khalil called the bombings Tuesday a terrorist attack.



"This can be fully described as a terrorist act, it is a criminal and a condemned act which targeted the lives of civilians, it is just one of the terrorism acts that have been hitting the region which Lebanon is part of."

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