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1983: Beirut blasts kill US and French troops

At least 146 American marines and 27 French servicemen have been killed after two separate bomb attacks on military headquarters in the Lebanese capital Beirut.

Two lorries containing 4000lb (1.4 tonnes) bombs exploded when they hit the buildings, the US Battalion Landing Team headquarters and the French paratroopers base which are situated just four miles (6km) apart.

The death toll is expected to rise to more than 200 as people remain trapped inside the collapsed buildings.

The two suicide bombers, both of whom died in the attack, have been named as Abu Mazen, 26, and Abu Sijaan, 24. They are reported to be members of a previously unknown group called the Free Islamic Revolutionary Movement.

The group is thought to be made up of Lebanese Shia Muslims and is part of an extremist faction of the Amal militia based in Syrian-occupied eastern Lebanon.

The US Secretary of Defence, Caspar Weinberger, insisted there was "strong circumstantial evidence" that Iran was behind the attacks but did not rule out possible Syrian and Soviet involvement.


"There are no words that can properly express our outrage and, I think the outrage of all Americans at this despicable act"

President Reagan

He also reiterated President Reagan's vow that the US would not remove its troops from Beirut.

"Our goal in Lebanon remains the same and our commitment remains unchanged despite this terrible tragedy," he said.

The National Security Council of the US are due to meet to make a decision on what action is necessary.

President Reagan has condemned the attacks saying: "There are no words that can properly express our outrage and, I think the outrage of all Americans at this despicable act."

US forces have been in Lebanon since August 1982 to act as a peacekeeping force between warring Christian and Muslim factions.

On 12 October this year the Multinational Force in Lebanon resolution was signed to allow US, French and Italian troops to remain in Beirut and help oversee the reconciliation process in the area.


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