Grenade launchers are being fired by assailants as Beirut gun battle continues

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The aftermath of a major explosion is seen at the port in Beirut, Lebanon in this image taken on August 5, 2020. (Daniel Carde/Getty Images)

Thursday’s violence came ahead of a protest to remove a judge whose investigation into last year’s port explosion has sent shock waves to Lebanon’s political elite.

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The Iran-backed Lebanese terrorist and political group Hezbollah has been a staunch opponent of popular judge Tarek Bitter, who is leading the investigation into the explosion at the port of Beirut that killed more than 200 people last August.

Since his appointment to investigate in February, Bitter has sought top political and security officials for questioning.


This week Betar issued an arrest warrant for former finance minister Ali Hassan Khalil, a top official of the Hezbollah-allied Amal party. Beitar has also issued an arrest warrant for former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s aide and former Interior Minister Nauhad Machnouk.

Beirut’s head of the criminal court, Beitar, is the second judicial investigator to lead the port’s investigation. The first judge to handle the investigation was sacked after two former government ministers accused in the investigation successfully filed a motion to remove them.

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Several legal petitions by the authorities to prosecute the dismissal of Betar have been unsuccessful.

During a televised speech on Monday, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah rebuked the judge, accusing him of “politicising”.


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