Syrian forces pull out from south Beirut, northern Lebanon
Syria pulled out its last remaining forces from south Beirut and cut its military presence in northern Lebanon in the fourth redeployment operation staged by the Syrian army in less than three years.
Convoys of military buses have been moving some 1,000 Syrian troops from south Beirut's suburbs of Khaldeh and Aramoun via the Beirut-Damascus highway in the direction of Damascus since midnight Monday-Tuesday, A Nahar website reported.
The southern pullout left only a nominal contingent guarding the Beirut headquarters of Syria's military intelligence and a few checkpoints to help Lebanese forces firm up control of the Palestinian refugee camps of Chatilla and Bourj el Barajneh in Beirut.
Similar convoys streamed out of the Batroun region and the northern province of Akkar in the direction of Syria's central city of Homs. The Syrian military positions in Arida and Deir Ammar have been dismantled and troops manning them were withdrawn.
The Lebanese army has put several battalions on standby to move into all positions that were vacated by Syrian troops.
Lebanese military sources said details of the operation were submitted beforehand to President Lahoud in southern France, where he is vacationing, Speaker Nabi Berri and Premier Rafic al Hariri in Beirut.
The sources said this was the fourth redeployment operation after Israel terminated a 22-year occupation of south Lebanon.
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)