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Syria completes Lebanon withdrawal

The Syrian army completed its withdrawal from all Lebanese territories on Monday, Lebanese security sources announced, according to the Al-‘Arabiyya TV network.

Following U.N. Resolution 1559 and constant American and European pressure, the Syrian regime promised it would evacuate all its troops by April 30. This deadline was brought forward on Monday, as the last military trucks were seen leaving their bases.

Only a few soldiers and intelligence agents have stayed behind for the formal farewell ceremony, which will be held on Tuesday at the Riyaq Air Base. Immediately after the withdrawal process is completed, a special report by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan will be published concerning Resolution 1559. Annan postponed his report following a request by Syrian President Bashar Al-Asad.

The Syrian army entered Lebanon at the beginning of the civil war in 1975. Fourteen thousand troops and intelligence agents stayed in Lebanon until a few weeks ago, when the Syrian regime decided to pull out the troops.

The international pressure on Syria increased in February 2005, after the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Al-Hariri. The former premier has expressed his wish for a Syrian withdrawal, and many believe Syria was behind his murder.