Source Pravda.Ru

Syria completes its troop withdrawal from Lebanon

A formal ceremony will mark the start of a new era for &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/usa/2002/04/08/27415.html ' target=_blank>Lebanon on Tuesday, when Syria will complete its troop withdrawal with farewell ceremonies in the Bekaa Valley.

Syrian forces controlled much of the country's affairs for 29 years, but pressure came for them to withdraw after former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated two months ago in a car bombing.

Many Lebanese people blamed Damascus for the killing, which sparked massive demonstrations calling for Syria to leave the nation. Opposition groups also called on Lebanon's top security officials, all considered to be pro-Syrian, to resign, reports CNN News.

According to ABC News, with the Syrians leaving, its Lebanese allies in the security services also were collapsing. Maj. Gen. Jamil Sayyed often described as the enforcer of Damascus' policy announced his resignation, and another top security commander left the country with his family.

Only a token Syrian force about 300 soldiers, compared with a force of 14,000 only two months ago remains for Tuesday's ceremony at a Lebanese airbase in the eastern &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2001/11/16/21166_.html ' target=_blank>Bekaa Valley to mark the official end of the Syrian presence.

The headquarters of Syrian military intelligence, at the border in the Bekaa town of Anjar, was a stark symbol of Damascus' power the site where it decided policy in Lebanon, including who ran for office, who became a Cabinet minister and who was arrested.

A convoy of about a dozen vehicles pulled out of the site before sundown, heading for the nearby Masnaa border crossing on its way to Syria. The top Syrian intelligence chief in Lebanon, Maj. Gen. Rustom Ghazale, was in the convoy, witnesses said though he was expected to return to participate in the farewell ceremony.

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