Gunman opens fire at U.S. Embassy in Beirut, shooter wounded

The brazen attack began around 8:34 a.m. local time when a Syrian national identified as Mohamad Abed al-Salam approached the embassy’s entrance in the Awkar area, according to the Lebanese Army.

A tense standoff unfolded early Wednesday morning in the Lebanese capital after a lone gunman opened fire with a small arms weapon toward the heavily fortified U.S. Embassy compound before being shot and apprehended by security forces.

The brazen attack began around 8:34 a.m. local time when a Syrian national identified as Mohamad Abed al-Salam approached the embassy’s entrance in the Awkar area, according to the Lebanese Army. He proceeded to unleash a volley of gunfire toward the facility before Lebanese soldiers stationed nearby returned fire, wounding the assailant.

Lebanese authorities swiftly descended on the area with an intense security cordon, with the suspect being disarmed and transported to a nearby hospital under heavy guard. His precise motives remained unclear, though militant groups have previously threatened U.S. interests in Lebanon.

While firing on diplomatic missions is considered an act of terror under international law, the seemingly lone gunman’s motives and any potential group affiliations have yet to be determined by investigators. No group immediately claimed responsibility.

Regional tensions have been heightened in recent months given bitter domestic political divisions in Lebanon between Iran-backed Hezbollah militants and a Saudi-allied governing coalition. The heavily fortified U.S. Embassy has remained a prime target for anti-American grievances.

Thursday’s brazen attack marks the third major incident at the Beirut embassy since it was bombed by militants in 1983, then again in 1984. More recently in 2011, protesters furious over an internet video insulting Islam briefly infiltrated the compound before being repelled.

As a massive Lebanese Army contingent swarmed the Awkar neighbourhood following the early morning dramatics, many expressed relief that the shooting did not escalate into larger bloodshed or a hostage crisis.