The bombing of the United States Marine Barracks in Beirut October
On October 23, 1983, around 6:20 am, a yellow Mercedes-Benz delivery truck drove to Beirut International Airport, where the 1st Battalion 8th Marines, under the U.S. 2nd Marine Division of the United States Marines, had set up its local headquarters. The truck turned onto an access road leading
to the Marines' compound and circled a parking lot. The driver then accelerated and crashed through a barbed wire fence around the parking lot, passed between two sentry posts, crashed through
a gate and barreled into the lobby of the Marine headquarters. The Marine sentries at the gate had loaded pistols but were
not able to stop the driver even though they shot at him. According to one Marine, the driver was smiling as he sped past
The suicide bomber detonated his explosives, which were equivalent to 12,000 pounds (about 5,400kg)
of TNT. The force of the explosion collapsed the four-story cinder-block building
into rubble, crushing many inside.
About 20 seconds later, an identical attack occurred against
the barracks of the French Third Company of the Sixth French Parachute Infantry Regiment. Another suicide
bomber drove his truck down a ramp into the building's underground parking garage and detonated his bomb, leveling the headquarters.
efforts continued for days. While the rescuers were at times hindered by sniper fire, some survivors were pulled from the rubble and airlifted to the RAF hospital in Cyprus or to US and German hospitals in West Germany .
The death toll was 241 American servicemen: 220 Marines, 18 Navy
personnel and 3 Army soldiers. Sixty Americans were injured. In the attack on the French barracks, 58 paratroopers were killed
and 15 injured. In addition, the elderly Lebanese custodian of the Marines' building was killed in the first blast.  The wife and four children of a Lebanese janitor at the French building also were killed.
This was the deadliest single-day death toll for the United States
Marine Corps since the Battle of Iwo Jima (2,500 in one day) of World War II. The attack remains the deadliest post-World War II attack on Americans overseas.
President Ronald Reagan called the attack a "despicable act" and pledged to keep a military force
in Lebanon. Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger said there would be no change in the U.S.'s Lebanon policy. On October 24 French President François Mitterrand visited the French bomb site. It was not an official visit, and he only stayed
for a few hours, but he did declare: "We will stay." U.S. Vice President George Bush toured the marine bombing site on October 26 and said the U.S. "would not be cowed by terrorists."
In retaliation for the attacks, France launched an air strike in the Beqaa Valley against Iranian Revolutionary Guard positions. President Reagan assembled his national security team and planned
to target the Sheik Abdullah barracks in Baalbek, Lebanon, which housed Iranian Revolutionary Guards believed to be training
Hezbollah fighters. But Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger aborted the mission, reportedly because of his concerns that it would harm
U.S. relations with other Arab nations.
Besides a few shellings, there was no serious retaliation for
the Beirut bombing from the Americans. In December 1983, U.S. aircraft attacked Syrian targets in Lebanon, but this was in
response to Syrian missile attacks on planes, not the barracks bombing.
The Marines were moved offshore where they could not be targeted.
On February 7, 1984, the order was given for the Marines to begin withdrawal from Lebanon. This
was completed on February 26; the rest of the MNF was withdrawn by April.
The responsibility for the bombing is uncertain. Most (notably
the U.S. government) believe the Hezbollah militant group, backed by Iran and Syria, was responsible for the bombings, as well as the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut in April of that year. Hezbollah, Iran and Syria, all staunch opponents
of a Western presence in Lebanon, denied any involvement. Several Shia militant groups claimed responsibility for the attacks, and one, the
Free Islamic Revolutionary Movement, identified the two suicide bombers as Abu Mazen, 26, and Abu Sijaan, 24.
Along with the US Embassy bombing, the barracks bombing prompted
the Inman Report, a review of the security of US facilities overseas for the US Department of State.
In May 2003, US District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth declared that the Islamic Republic of Iran was responsible for the 1983 attack, on the grounds that Iran had
originally founded Hezbollah and financed the group throughout the years.