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Today marks the 36th Anniversary of the bombing of the Marine Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon on 23 October 1983.
On October 23, 1983, two truck bombs struck buildings in Beirut, Lebanon, housing American and French service members of the Multinational Force in Lebanon (MNF), a military peacekeeping operation during the Lebanese Civil War. The attack killed 307 people: 241 U.S. and 58 French military personnel, six civilians, and two attackers.
The first suicide bomber detonated a truck bomb at the building serving as a barracks for the 1st Battalion 8th Marines (Battalion Landing Team – BLT 1/8) of the 2nd Marine Division, killing 220 Marines, 18 sailors and 3 soldiers, making this incident the deadliest single-day death toll for the United States Marine Corps since the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II and the deadliest single-day death toll for the United States Armed Forces since the first day of the Tet Offensive in the Vietnam War.[better source needed] Another 128 Americans were wounded in the blast; 13 later died of their injuries, and they are counted among the number who died. An elderly Lebanese man, a custodian/vendor who was known to work and sleep in his concession stand next to the building, was also killed in the first blast. The explosives used were later estimated to be equivalent to as much as 9,500 kg (21,000 pounds) of TNT.
Minutes later, a second suicide bomber struck the nine-story Drakkar building, a few kilometers away, where the French contingent was stationed; 55 paratroopers from the 1st Parachute Chasseur Regiment and three paratroopers of the 9th Parachute Chasseur Regiment were killed and 15 injured. It was the single worst French military loss since the end of the Algerian War. The wife and four children of a Lebanese janitor at the French building were also killed, and more than twenty other Lebanese civilians were injured.
A group called Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the bombings and said that the aim was to force the MNF out of Lebanon. According to Caspar Weinberger, then United States Secretary of Defense, there is no knowledge of who did the bombing. Some analysis highlights the role of Hezbollah and Iran, calling it "an Iranian operation from top to bottom". There is no consensus on whether Hezbollah existed at the time of bombing.
The attacks eventually led to the withdrawal of the international peacekeeping force from Lebanon, where they had been stationed following the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) withdrawal in the aftermath of Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon.
In 2004 it was reported that an Iranian group called the Committee for the Commemoration of Martyrs of the Global Islamic Campaign had erected a monument, at the Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery in Tehran, to commemorate the 1983 bombings and its "martyrs".
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