Syria pullout phase 'roughly' finished

Syria is close to completing the first phase of its pullback to the Bekaa Valley in eastern Lebanon, while about 4000 troops have crossed back into Syria.

    Syrian intelligence agents have left their bases in Beirut

    A Lebanese security source said on Thursday that Syria's army and intelligence agents had finished their redeployment.

    He said Syrian troops and intelligence agents had abandoned positions in north Lebanon and the mountains above Beirut and were now for the most part concentrated in the Bekaa Valley near the Syrian border.

    "It's roughly ended," the source said. "There are just some logistics left. But the people went, all of them."

    Syria began the redeployment on 8 March after coming under international pressure to withdraw from Lebanon following the 14 February assassination of former prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri in Beirut, which sparked weeks of anti-Syrian demonstrations.

    Of the 14,000 troops that were in Lebanon, at least 4000 crossed into Syria in the past week and the rest remain in the Bekaa.

    Syrian President Bashar al-Asad has promised to bring the troops back home in the second phase of redeployment.

    The second phase of the withdrawal will be determined by a Lebanese-Syrian military commission in the first week of April, with the pullout likely to be completed before Lebanese parliamentary elections that are scheduled for May.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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