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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 November, 2004, 14:25 GMT
Lebanon march for Syrians to stay
Banners for the march are prepared
Banners of Syrian and Lebanese presidents lined the route
Large numbers of people are gathering in the Lebanese capital Beirut for a demonstration in support of Syria's role in the country.

The demonstration has been called by pro-Syrian, left-wing and Arab nationalist organisations, including Shia Muslim militant group Hezbollah.

The protest's organisers said they hoped one million people would attend.

Many citizens are angry at a recent UN Security Council resolution calling on Syrian troops to leave Lebanon.

The resolution also called on Hezbollah, which occasionally launches attacks against Israeli troops along the Lebanese border, to disarm.

The protestors, backed by pro-Syrian president Emile Lahoud, argue that the 14,000 troops are necessary to keep the peace between ethnic and religious groups.


Posters of Mr Lahoud alongside his Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad lined the route of the march.

Vehicles with loudspeakers had toured Beirut before the march calling on people to join the protest and "confront the American-Zionist conspiracy."

Buses hired by the organisers brought the protestors from all across Lebanon to the capital.

"The United States, France or the United Nations have no right to come and interfere in internal Lebanese affairs," said Ahmed Barini, a student from north Lebanon who had travelled to Beirut for the march.

Opposition politicians have criticised the march and warned of the consequences of defying the United Nations.

Around 3,000 students demonstrated in Beirut last week in support of Syrian withdrawal.

Syria first sent troops into Lebanon in 1976, at the beginning of the civil war there.

Most of the forces stayed on in the country after the conflict ended in 1990.

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