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Syria poised for troop pullback "on Monday"

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Syria poised for troop pullback "on Monday"


Syria will begin its troop pullback in Lebanon on Monday, according to authorities in Beirut.

The eyes of the world are watching to see whether Damascus does as it said it would. It has pledged to engage in a two-phased total withdrawal. Stage one, it is believed, will see up to 5,000 soldiers redeployed to the eastern Bekaa Valley. Syria has come under growing global pressure to quit the country since the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri last month.

Many pointed the finger of blame at Damascus, which denies any role in the killing.But while Lebanon’s opposition wants a pullout as quickly as possible, the nation’s most powerful party has leapt to the defence of Damascus.

Hizbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah called for a peaceful rally in Beirut on Tuesday, in support of Syria and against foreign intervention.

“The aim of America and Israel is to spread chaos in Lebanon,” he said. On Saturday, Syria’s president announced plans for a complete troop pullout, but he said his country would still play a part in its neighbour’s affairs. “Not good enough” was the verdict from the White House. It has dismissed Bashar al-Assad’s proposals as “half measures” and pledged to step up pressure for a complete and immediate withdrawal.
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