"The Syrians are recovering Lebanon," [Ret.] Gen. Elias Hanna, a
political science instructor at Notre Dame University, said. "The balance of
power is not in the Lebanese favor. Whatever happens, [Syria] will have the
upper hand. It doesn't matter who the culprit is."
"This was a big terrorist explosion," Lebanese Information Minister
Tarek Mitri said.
Officials said the bombing appeared to be the work of Sunni insurgents
linked to Al Qaida. In 2007, the Lebanese Army fought a 104-day war at the
Palestinian refugee camp of Naher Al Bared near Tripoli with the Al
Qaida-aligned Fatah Al Islam, supported by Syria.
"The terrorist attack directly targets the army and national peace
efforts," a Lebanese Army statement said.
"The hands of the criminals have hit in Tripoli against innocent
soldiers and civilians," Mitri said. "Once again, they want our country to
be an arena for settling scores and battling for influence."
The bomb was said to have contained 20 kilograms of TNT and detonated
by remote control. Officials said the bomb contained nuts and bolts to
ensure maximum casualties.
"It's part of the string of attacks against the Lebanese Army," Oussama
Safa, executive director of the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies, told the
Lebanese Daily Star. "The army has been a target for a while now. What's
worrying is the quality and the ferocity of the attack."
Despite its defeat, Fatah Al Islam has sought to renew attacks in
Tripoli. The group claimed responsibility for a bombing on May 31 in which a
soldier was killed.
The Lebanese Army has bolstered its presence in Tripoli amid clashes
between Sunni supporters of Siniora and Alawite opposition groups aligned
with Syria. The army, under increasing Hizbullah control, has refrained from
Another bombing was reported in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein
Hilwe outside the Lebanese city of Sidon. Palestinian sources said the
bombing targeted a senior Fatah operative.