Hizbullah leads massive pro-Syrian demonstration in Beirut
More than 1.6 million people from across Lebanon converged on the Lebanese capital of Beirut Tuesday in solidarity with Syria, answering a nationwide call by Hizbullah movement for a demonstration to counter weeks of massive rallies demanding Syrian forces leave Lebanon.
Loudspeakers blared songs of resistance and organizers handed out Lebanese flags and directed the men and women to separate sections of the square. Demonstrators held up pictures of Syrian President Bashar Assad and signs saying, "Syria & Lebanon brothers forever." "Beirut is free, America out," shouted demonstrators.
Large cranes hoisted two giant red-and-white flags bearing Lebanon's cedar tree. On one, the words, "Thank you Syria," were written in English; on the other, "No to foreign interference."
Protestors also waved portraits of the late Syrian president Hafez al-Assad, his successor son Bashar al-Assad as well as his Lebanese counterpart Emile Lahoud and Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. At one point, the huge crowd observed a moment of silence for former Lebanon's Prime Minister Rafic al Hariri, whose assassination in a Feb. 14 bombing triggered the weeks of anti-Syrian demonstrations.
The huge crowds marched through Beirut’s main streets leading to Riad al-Solh Square. According to The AP, the main demonstration was in front of U.N. offices. Hizbullah opposes the U.N. resolution drafted by the United States and France last year calling for Syria's withdrawal from Lebanon.
Delivering his speech to the cheering crowd, Nasrallah said no one in Lebanon feared the United States. "We have defeated them in the past and if they come again we will defeat them again," he said.