Tens of thousands of Syrians have gathered in central Damascus in a government-sponsored rally. They have been protesting against a UN inquiry they say unfairly blames Syria for the killing of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik al-Hariri. The UN report concluded the decision to kill Hariri “could not have been taken without the approval of top-ranked Syrian security officials”.
Hariri’s assassination transformed Lebanon’s political landscape, sparking massive anti-Syrian rallies and leading to the withdrawal of Syrian forces. The demonstrations come on the eve of a UN Security Council meeting to discuss the findings of the report. Both the United States and Britain are demanding action be taken against Syria. The report, which criticises Damascus for not cooperating, points the finger of blame at some of president Bashar al-Assad’s closest allies, and says Hariri was killed for political reasons because he was seen as an enemy of Syria.