Minister: Syrian pullout starts Monday

Syria will start a pullout of its forces in Lebanon to the Bekaa Valley on Monday, Lebanese Defence Minister Abd al-Rahim Murad said.

    The Syrian president announced the pullback on Saturday

    "The withdrawal starts tomorrow," Murad said on Sunday, adding that forces would retreat from northern Lebanon and Mount Lebanon in accordance with the Taif Accord that ended Lebanon's 1975-90 civil war.


    He said the pullback would start immediately after a meeting in Damascus between the leaderships of both countries to approve a withdrawal plan announced on Saturday by Syrian President Bashar al-Asad.


    Meanwhile, Lebanon's Hizb Allah group and its local allies have called for a peaceful mass demonstration in central Beirut on Tuesday in support of Syria and against foreign intervention.


    Hizb Allah chief Nasr Allah has
    called for a pro-Syrian rally

    "I call on all Lebanese to this peaceful popular gathering to reject foreign intervention that is contrary to our independence, sovereignty and freedom," Hizb Allah chief Hasan Nasr Allah said on Sunday.


    He said the protest would occur in a square in central Beirut close to another square used by opposition protesters to demand Syria quit Lebanon.


    Tuesday's rally would also be in appreciation of Syria and what Nasr Allah called its great achievements in Lebanon.


    In what could prove to be a contentious issue, Nasr Allah vowed his group would not lay down its weapons despite international pressure.


    "The resistance will not give up its arms... because Lebanon needs the resistance to defend it," he said.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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