Soldiers, policemen and medical personnel gather at the site of explosions near the Iranian embassy in Beirut
Hasan Shaaban  /  REUTERS
Soldiers, policemen and medical personnel gather at the site of explosions near the Iranian embassy in Beirut November 19, 2013. Two explosions apparently targeting the Iranian embassy hit the capital Beirut on Tuesday, security sources said, damaging at least six buildings in the embassy compound. REUTERS/Hasan Shaaban
updated 11/19/2013 3:42:06 AM ET 2013-11-19T08:42:06

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Two explosions targeting the Iranian embassy hit the Lebanese capital Beirut on Tuesday, security sources said, killing at least seven people and damaging buildings in the embassy compound.

It was not immediately clear whether the ambassador or any diplomatic staff were among the victims. No one at the embassy was reachable by phone.

Live footage from local news channels showed charred bodies on the ground as flames rose from the remains of several vehicles. Aid workers and residents carried away some of the victims on blankets.

It was not immediately clear what caused the blasts. A security source said the blasts were caused by two rockets fired on the area, in the southern part of the city, but a second security source said there was a car bomb explosion.

Lebanon has seen several explosions and street clashes in Beirut and the northern city of Tripoli linked to the 2-1/2-year conflict in neighboring Syria.

There was no word on who was behind the blasts, but Syrian rebels have threatened to target President Bashar al-Assad's allies in neighboring Lebanon.

Shi'ite Iran has been bank-rolling Assad's fight against the mainly Sunni rebels and has given military support. It also supports the Shi'ite Muslim guerrilla group Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Southern Beirut is known as a Hezbollah stronghold and has been rocked with at least three other explosions this year.

Those attacks were blamed on groups linked to the rebels, believed to be in retaliation for its involvement in Syria's civil war.

Hezbollah fighters have been supporting Assad's forces in several strategic battles across Syria, a move that has also increased sectarian tension in the two countries.

The Syrian uprising has been mostly led by the country's Sunni Muslim majority and has been widely supported by Sunnis in Lebanon. Assad is from the minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam.

(Reporting by Erika Solomon; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2013. Check for restrictions at: http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp

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