Finally we are free, Freedom to Lebanon, Thanks to all of you who supported us for 29 years!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- The last Syrian soldiers have
left Lebanon, surrendering to international and
Lebanese popular demands and ending its 29-year
military presence in its smaller neighbor.
Syrians awaiting them waved flags as the troops
crossed the border. Earlier Tuesday, a formal ceremony
marked the withdrawal in the Bekaa Valley.
About 400 Syrian and Lebanese forces assembled on the
narrow parade grounds and were jointly reviewed by the
chiefs of staff for each as dignitaries looked on.
The Syrian army Chief of Staff, Gen. Ali Habib,
defended his country's nearly three decade stay,
saying Lebanon was being left a stronger nation.
"It goes without saying that Syrian armed forces
didn't enter Lebanon because they wanted to, but
because of a call from the Lebanese government," Habib
said. "Syria never had any desires or ambitions in
Lebanon except to preserve it's unity."
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 February 14 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,
On Monday, Lebanon's pro-Syrian security chief Jamil
al-Sayyed quit after Syria over the weekend made its
final push to jettison most remaining soldiers.
Less than three hours after the last Syrian soldiers
were seen leaving, Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk
al-Sharaa said in a letter to U.N. Secretary-General
Kofi Annan that "all Arab Syrian forces have returned
to Syria," a Foreign Ministry statement said.
Annan, who has dispatched a verification team, was
expected to submit a report to the U.N. Security
Council later Tuesday about Syria's compliance with
A security council resolution adopted last September
calls for the pullout of all foreign forces from
Syrians entered the country in 1976 as peacekeepers in
the Lebanese civil war. By 1990, 40,000 Syrian troops
Over the last 15 years, the number had decreased to
Lebanese Army Commander Gen. Michel Suleiman said the
nations will always be linked.
"Together comrades in arms against Israel ... a
cooperative relationship in all areas together," he
said. "To fend off all sectarianism and divisive
forces. Our challenges are one. Our interests are
Key parliamentary elections are due to be held by May
29, two days before parliament's term ends.
Hariri was a key mover in getting a U.N. resolution to
call on Syria to remove its troops and intelligence
assets from Lebanon. Resolution 1559, passed last
year, also called on Lebanon to disband guerrilla
Hariri's death is at the center of an international
investigation authorized by the U.N. Security Council.
A U.N. report released last month said the government
of Syria "interfered" with governance in Lebanon in a
heavy-handed way that was "the primary reason for the
political polarization that ensued" before Hariri's
Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around