Monday, March 14, 2005

Yahoo! News - Hundreds of Thousands in Lebanon Protest Syria

Yahoo! News - Hundreds of Thousands in Lebanon Protest Syria

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Hundreds of thousands of people rallied in central Beirut on Monday in the largest anti-Syrian protest in Lebanon since the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri exactly a month ago.

Flag-waving crowds from across Lebanon gathered in Martyrs' Square in central Beirut, just meters away from Hariri's grave, to demand an international inquiry into his killing, the sacking of Syrian-backed security chiefs and a total Syrian pullout.

Unlike previous anti-Syrian opposition protests since a bomb blast killed Hariri on Feb. 14, many Sunni Muslims joined Druze and Christians in taking to the streets. Hariri was a Sunni.

The opposition rally came a day after huge crowds turned out in the south for a anti-U.S. demonstration organized by Lebanon's Shi'ite Muslim Hizbollah group, an ally of Syria.

Organizers of the Beirut protest say it will draw hundreds of thousands to the central Beirut square that has seen daily protests demanding a full Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon.

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