Syrian President Bashar al-Assad asked the Lebanese government Monday to cover financial losses caused by the explosion of 2,500 tons of ammonium nitrate that his regime had entrusted to it, storing them in the Beirut port while he worked through his existing cache of explosives, barrel bombs and chemical weapons.
Assad’s comment came after an investigation by a Lebanese filmmaker revealed that the company that procured the ammonium nitrate was linked to Syrian-Russian businessmen George Haswani, Imad and Mudallal Khoury, who are sanctioned by the US.
“It’s my nitrate and I do with it what I want,” said Assad in a press conference. “If I want it to summer in Lebanon a few years before I get around to using it, or I want it to travel around the world, or if I want to give the real friends of Syria, the Iranians, some of it then that’s entirely within my rights.”
“I ask our Lebanese brothers to take responsibility, because it contravenes international customs and law for them to blow up their own citizens when our citizens are more deserving of it,” he added.
Assad praised Haswani and the Khoury brothers for going above and beyond in their search for the ammonium nitrate that would end up destroying most of Beirut, ignoring American sanctions over their oil dealings with ISIS and attempting to procure it from countries like Russia.
“Wherever you find Syrian-Russian businessmen, you find the true Syria,” said Assad. “Syria is strong, and we will fight imperialism everywhere, including in Lebanon, where those in charge of the ammonium nitrate treated it like a Lebanese bank treats its own customers.”
Assad warned the Lebanese that if their government does not pay, he may take matters into his own hands.
“Lebanon is nearby, we can be there in an hour or an hour and a half if there’s traffic, and it was only yesterday that we had a viceroy and soldiers there,” he said.