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‘Most Believe’ Beirut Blast ‘Accident,’ Esper Says, Contradicting Trump Attack Claim

FILE PHOTO: US Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper

PortandTerminal.com, August 5, 2020

“I met with some of our great generals and they just seemed to feel it was, this was not some kind of manufacturing explosion type of event… they seem to think it was an attack, it was a bomb of some kind, yes.” President Donald Trump discussing Beirut explosion

WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Wednesday afternoon said that “most believe” a massive explosion that devastated Beirut the day before was “an accident,” contradicting a claim by President Donald Trump that “generals” told him that the blast was an “attack.” 

“Still getting information on what happened,” Esper said, speaking at the Aspen Security Forum on Wednesday afternoon. “Most believe that it was an accident as reported and beyond that I have nothing further to report on that. It’s obviously a tragedy.”

The explosion, which flattened central Beirut and has killed more than 100 people as of Wednesday afternoon, took place at a warehouse in Beirut’s port area that Lebanese officials say housed thousands of pounds of explosive materials.

Asked why Trump speculated the Beirut blast was possibly an attack or bomb given the defense secretary said most think it’s an accident, Mark Meadows, White House Chief of Staff says, “From Secretary Esper’s standpoint, he doesn’t know.”

The building consensus among Lebanese officials and weapons experts has been that the conflagration was a result of state negligence, and the Lebanese government has announced an investigation into why 2,750 tons of seized ammonium nitrate was left stored at the port for years. 

One official familiar with the initial Lebanese investigation told Reuters in Beirut that although the question of storing the seized fertilizer safely had come up before official committees and judges, “nothing was done.” 

“It is negligence,” the official said.

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