Politico

Defense Secretary says Beirut explosion appears to have been 'an accident'


Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Wednesday that most officials believe the deadly explosion in Beirut this week was “an accident,” just hours after President Donald Trump called it an attack.

While Esper is still getting information about the incident, “most believe that it was an accident as reported,” he said in an appearance at the virtual Aspen Security Forum.

“We’re reaching out to the Lebanese government,” Esper added. “We’re positioning ourselves to provide them whatever assistance we can, humanitarian aid, medical supplies, you name it, to assist the people of Lebanon.”

Esper’s comments come after Trump on Tuesday said he met with “some of our great generals,” who “just seem to feel” that it was an attack. “It was a bomb of some kind,” Trump said.

There have been conflicting reports about what caused the explosion, but Lebanese officials have not called it an attack. Officials initially blamed a major fire at a fireworks warehouse near the port.

In a statement, Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab later said that 2,750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate, a type of agricultural fertilizer, had been stored since 2014 at a warehouse in the port without adequate safety measures.

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