Syrians protest Hariri report en masse
Updated: 2005-10-25 08:58
Civil servants and students massed in the streets Monday to protest a U.N.
report implicating Syria in the killing of a Lebanese leader, joining in
a campaign to drum up support before a U.N. Security Council meeting.
The United States and Britain were pushing for the council to take a tough
stand against Syria at a meeting Tuesday, but France said sanctions shouldn't be
voted on until investigators finish looking into the assassination of former
Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
"Let us allow that commission to run its full course," French Foreign
Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy told reporters in Paris.
At the same time, French diplomats at the United Nations were working with
U.S. officials trying to mobilize support for a strong resolution demanding that
Syria cooperate fully with the investigation.
"This is true
confessions time now for the government of Syria," U.S. Ambassador John Bolton
said. "No more obstruction. No more half measures. We want substantive
cooperation and we want it immediately."
Syrians shout against the U.N. Mehlis report
as they flash a poster showing Syrian President Bashar Assad Monday, Oct.
24, 2005, in Damscus, Syria. [AP]
White House spokesman Scott McClellan called the U.N. report "very troubling"
and said President Bush had directed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to
arrange a Security Council meeting at the earliest possible date "to discuss how
to proceed." The U.S. target date for Rice and her counterparts to agree on a
resolution is Oct. 31.
Syria's official SANA news agency said "hundreds of thousands" of people
gathered in Damascus and Aleppo to demonstrate against the "unjust accusations"
made by the report, released last week by chief U.N. investigator Detlev Mehlis.
The report implicated top Syrian security officials in Hariri's Feb. 14
assassination, drawing a strenuous denial from President Bashar Assad's
authoritarian regime. Syrian officials called the report politicized, biased and
Thousands of Syrians rally in central Damascus
in support of the government, on the eve of a UN Security Council meeting
on a UN report that implicated Damascus in the murder of Lebanese
ex-premier Rafiq Hariri. [AFP]
Lebanon's major pro-Syrian groups, Amal and Hezbollah, also criticized the
U.N. report, saying in a statement Monday in Beirut that a more thorough
investigation was needed "based on facts and tangible evidence — not politics."
Their position conflicts with that of Lebanon's Cabinet, which has endorsed the
The mass demonstrations in Syria were a concerted attempt to drum up support
for Assad amid heightening international pressure.