Re: Syria tightens noose on Lebanon

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Posted by Al Gordon on 15:57:22 2005/02/15

In Reply to: Re: Audio of CCD on Rafe Mair Show, CKDB, Vancouver posted by Al Gordon

Army Takes Over Beirut

Opposition Accuses Syria of Engineering Hariri's Murder

Lebanon reeled under the impact of Rafik Hariri's assassination Tuesday. Combat-ready army troops took charge of Beirut's security as his opposition allies held the reigning regimes of Presidents Assad and Lahoud directly responsible for his murder by a car-bomb rigged with 350-kilograms of high-powered explosives the day before.
Media reports said the death toll from the assassination blast at a seaside tourist spot near Beirut's Phoenicia Intercontinental Hotel has risen to 17 dead and one Arab satellite network put the figure at 39, including the charismatic ex-premier and eight of his bodyguards. The lower part of Hariri's body was shredded but his head, face and shoulders were relatively intact, which helped to establish his identity.

More than 120 persons remained hospitalized from varying injuries they received in the fiery blast. Hariri's former Economy Minister Bassel Fleihan suffered from burns that covered 90 percent of his body. He was hanging between life and death as he was flown to Paris for treatment overnight.

Leaders of a newly formed broad opposition front with which Hariri had recently aligned himself met at his Koreitem mansion hours after the assassination and unanimously accused Syria of engineering his murder in collaboration with intelligence services of "Lebanon's police state."

Ex-Economy Minister Marwan Hamadeh, who served in several Hariri-headed governments in his capacity as senior-most aide of Druze leader Walid Jumblat, Hariri's closest political ally, emerged from the Koreitem meeting to put the blame squarely on Syria.

"It's an ugly crime that began in Damascus and passed through Baabda and the Lebanese government plus the Lebanese intelligence services. That's all," said Hamadeh, who survived a similar car-bomb assassination attempt Oct. 1.

The opposition communiqué proclaimed Lebanon a 'hostage country' and called on the international community to provide protection to the Lebanese people and to set up an international committee to investigate the assassination. It said the reigning authority in Lebanon and its master Syria could not be trusted with the conduct of a neutral investigation.

The opposition also called for the immediate removal of Premier Karami's government because it has lost its legitimacy as well as the trust of the international community. A transitional government should be formed to hold credible parliamentary elections in spring after the Syrian army completes a total evacuation of Lebanon.

Hariri's family scheduled his funeral for Wednesday. The 60-year-old ex-premier will be buried in the courtyard of Mohammed Al Amin Mosque, the largest in Lebanon. He financed the building of the mosque from his own pocket in the course of his majestic restructure of the city's war-ravaged downtown.

The government had decided on a state funeral for the 'fallen national martyr." But Hariri's bloc in parliament furiously rejected any participation by the Lahoud regime in the funeral services on the grounds that "the killer should not be allowed to walk behind the victim's casket."

(Photos show Hariri waving as he left parliament for his tragic death and his remains at the assassination scene)

Beirut, Updated 15 Feb 05, 17:10

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