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March 15, 2005

Anti-Syrian forces appear to be gaining an upper hand

Topics: Middle East News and Perspectives

The latest Beirut rally against Damascus shows the opposition's lack of leadership.

Lebanon's independence movement has regained the initiative in its struggle with Syria and the Syrian-backed Government by holding the biggest mass demonstration in the recent history of the Middle East.

Syrian_crowd

More than 300,000 people, perhaps as many as half a million, crammed into central Beirut on Monday to call for a complete withdrawal of Syrian troops and for a full, independent inquiry into the February 14 assassination of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri - the event that sparked the present crisis.

The rally dwarfed the pro-Syrian demonstration called last week by Hezbollah, the mainly Shiite Muslim political and paramilitary movement.

While Hezbollah packed central Beirut's Escwa Square, the opposition rally filled to capacity the much larger Martyr's Square where Mr Hariri is buried. Many Lebanese blame his assassination on Syrian agents.

"I am here for freedom," said Noor, a middle-aged Sunni Muslim woman from the southern town of Sidon. "We are Lebanese. Our message to Syria is please go."

Related:
Op=Ed, Lebanon's people bring about renaissance of freedom
More news on event, Sea of anti-Syrian demonstrators floods streets of Downtown Beirut (Caims 1,000,000,000)

Posted by Hyscience at March 15, 2005 4:22 PM



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