Thousands of Lebanese Protest Against U.S.

Associated Press
Date: 01-17-06

By HUSSEIN DAKROUB, Associated Press Writer

1 hour, 21 minutes ago

BEIRUT, Lebanon - Thousands of pro-Syrian Lebanese chanting "Death to America" protested Tuesday near the U.S. Embassy against what they called American meddling in the country's affairs.

Three days ago police violently broke up a similar demonstration that coincided with the visit of a key U.S. envoy to the Middle East.

Tuesday's protest occurred during a visit to the Middle East by Vice President Dick Cheney, who made stops in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Students and political activists from 18 pro-Syrian groups, including the militant Hezbollah organization, chanted in unison "Death to America!" and "Beirut is free! Free! America get out!"

During the peaceful one-hour protest, demonstrators also chanted support for Syria and Iran - the United States' main opponents in the Middle East.

About 150 riot police held the protesters behind a barricade of barbed wire about 500 yards from the fortified embassy compound in Aukar, northern Beirut.

Police estimated the crowd at 17,000. A Hezbollah official put the number at 25,000.

Pro-Syrians accuse the United States of trying to influence Lebanon since Syria was forced to withdraw its troops from the country last April after international and Lebanese pressure over the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

The United States is one of several Western countries that backed a U.N. Security Council resolution in 2004 that demanded an end to Syrian interference in Lebanon and the disarming of all militias in the country - a reference to the pro-Syrian Hezbollah.

Hezbollah, which the United States lists as a terrorist organization, has refused to disarm, saying it is defending Lebanon from Israeli attacks.



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