Assad declares full withdrawal from Lebanon without providing specific dates
Syria's President Bashar Assad on Saturday vowed to make a full withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon. However, he didn't provide a specific timetable.
In an address to parliament, the Syrian leader outlined a two-step pullback: first to Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, nearer to the Syrian border; second, a redeployment from there all the way to the Syrian frontier.
A joint Syrian Lebanese committee is expected to meet next week to approve the withdrawal plan, Assad said.
In his speech, Assad said, "We would not stay one day if there was Lebanese consensus on the departure of Syria." He added that a withdrawal from Lebanon was in Syria's interest. "Our way is a gradual and organized withdrawal," he told the parliament.
Assad stressed that since 2000 Syria has already pulled out 60 percent of its forces from Lebanon and said currently there are some 14,000 troops there.
In a sarcastic comment at the end of his speech, Assad said that critics of Syria will likely claim that his announcement on the withdrawal "wasn't enough."
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