The company that bought the ammonium nitrate which exploded in Beirut last August had possible links to two Syrian businessmen under US sanctions, according to a report by a Lebanese journalist. The revelation was made in a report by documentary filmmaker Firas Hatoum and stated that both the businessmen supported Bashar al-Assad. Over 200 people have lost their lives in the explosion that jolted Lebanon.
Savaro Ltd, the trading firm which procured the chemicals in 2013 shared the same address as George Haswani and Imad Khoury, as per Hatoum’s report. Now, Haswani, Imad Khoury and his brother Mudalal khoury have all been sanction by American administration for their role in supporting the Syrian President’s war efforts, as per US Sanction list. The report also revealed that all three of them were joint Syrian-Russian nationals.
In 2015, the US Treasury accused Mudalal Khoury of “an attempted procurement of ammonium nitrate in late 2013”, a Reuters report stated. It sanctioned his brother Imad a year later for engaging in business activities with Mudalal. Haswani was sanctioned in 2015 on charges of helping Assad’s government to buy oil from Islamic State militants, which he has denied.
A colossal explosion rocked the Lebanese capital Beirut on August 4 killing over 157 and injuring over four thousand people. An investigation to find the exact trigger of the explosion is underway, however, officials are blaming tons of ammonium nitrate stored inside the safe house for the destruction. Recently, country’s Prime minister Hassan Diab revealed that‘ the dangerous warehouse, which exploded stored 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate for the past 6 years.
However, he said that he would not like to ‘pre-empt the investigation.’ Calling it a catastrophe, he demanded the strictest punishment for those responsible. President Michel Aoun also condemned the “unacceptable” storage of the dangerous material, declaring a three day mourning period in the country. In addition, he has also announced a release of 100 billion Lira of emergency funds to tackle the devastation. In the aftermath of the explosion, Country’s Defense Council has said that those responsible would be face maximum punishment.