[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Sunday, 6 March, 2005, 08:55 GMT
Syria sidesteps Lebanon demands
By Orla Guerin
BBC News, Damascus

Syrians gather in front of the parliament holding pictures of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad
Some Syrians back Mr Assad's decision
Supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gathered outside the parliament building in downtown Damascus to listen to the president's address on loudspeakers.

Some waved the Syrian flag, while others held his picture aloft.

But the support seemed orchestrated.

While the president may have satisfied the crowds he probably will not have satisfied the international community, and certainly not the Americans.

On the defensive

Once inside the parliament building, the president was greeted by a standing ovation.

But when he began to speak, he looked cornered, and at times sounded defensive.

He said that Syria would withdraw its forces to the Bekaa valley in eastern Lebanon, and then to the border between Syria and Lebanon.

He spoke for about an hour, but the most important thing was what he did not say.

He did not provide a timetable for a complete withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon - 14,000 soldiers and intelligence agents.

And that was what many in the international community were waiting for.

The president may soon find that the pressure on this issue just will not go away.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific