Lebanon is marking the 62nd anniversary of its independence from France – and it is doing so free of Syrian influence.
Significantly, no Syrian officials took part in grand celebrations in the capital Beirut. Earlier this year Damascus withdrew its troops from its smaller neighbour, ending a military presence of nearly 30 years. The pullout followed protests over the murder of ex-Lebanese leader Rafik al-Hariri. Opposition groups in Lebanon claimed Syria was involved – something it denies. Detlev Mehlis, the UN investigator probing Hariri’s death, has returned to Lebanon to wrap up his inquiry – as mourning continues for the former prime minister killed in a bomb attack in February. Mehlis has already implicated senior Lebanese and Syrian officials in the murder and has until December 15 to report back to the UN Security Council on his findings.