Officials in Lebanon had previously stated the blast came from a large quantity of explosive materials that were being held in a warehouse, but Trump, citing conversations with top U.S. military personnel, characterized the explosion as an “attack.”
“I’ve met with some of our great generals and they seem to feel that it was — this was not some kind of a manufacturing explosion type of event — this was a — seems to be, according to them they would know better than I would — but they seem to think it was an attack,” Trump said. “It was a bomb of some kind.”
Reached by Yahoo News on Tuesday evening, the Defense Department referred questions about the blast to the White House.
Trump’s remarks on the explosion came in response to a question from a reporter, but they echoed the characterization he made at the start of the briefing, when he said the blast in Beirut “looks like a terrible attack.”
“Let me begin by sending America’s deepest sympathies to the people of Lebanon, where reports indicate that many many people were killed, hundreds more were very badly wounded in a large explosion in Beirut,” Trump said. “Our prayers go out to all the victims and their families.”
According to the BBC, the explosion left at least 70 people dead and over 2,700 injured. The White House National Security Council and the Pentagon did not respond to request for comments about the U.S. assessment of the blast. According to Reuters, Israeli officials denied responsibility for the explosion and said it was most likely the result of an accidental fire.
Trump offered his condolences to the people of Beirut and said “the United States stands ready to assist Lebanon. We have a very good relationship with the people of Lebanon and we will be there to help. It looks like a terrible attack.”