Thousands of protesters defied a ban on public gatherings in downtown Beirut as Lebanon’s pariliament began a firey debate on who was responsibile for the Feb. 14 car-bomb assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri. Demanding the government resign, protesters chanted "Syria get out!" and "Freedom, sovereignty, independence!" Violence was feared as pro-Syria demonstrators converged nearby to protest the visit by US deputy decretary of state David Satterfield.
Druze leader Walid Jumblatt was said to be a key figure behind the anti-Syria protests. The affair seemed to pit anti-Syrian Druze and Christians against pro-Syrian Shi’ites, raising echoes of Lebanon’s chaotic 1980s civil war. (Reuters, Feb. 28)
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