Syrians End Military Presence in Lebanon
BEIRUT, Lebanon - Syrian troops burned documents and dismantled military posts in their final hours in Lebanon Sunday, before deploying toward the border and effectively ending 29 years of military presence in the country.
A few score Syrian troops will remain in Lebanon for a farewell ceremony Tuesday that the Lebanese Army plans to hold in a town close to the Syrian border.
In Damascus, the Syrian capital, a government official said: "Within the next few hours, all the troops will be out of Lebanon."
"What will be left are those who will take part in the official farewell" on Tuesday, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
In the border town of Anjar, home of Syria's chief of military intelligence in Lebanon, Syrian officials appeared to be going about their business as usual Sunday.
But at the Deir el-Ahmar base, Syria's last major garrison in the Bekaa Valley, 15 tanks rolled on to flatbed trucks, ready for the drive home, witnesses told The Associated Press. Soldiers burned papers, knocked down walls and loaded ammunition on to trucks.
Syrian troops had already vacated at least 10 positions in the northern part of the Bekaa Valley on Saturday. Dozens of trucks carrying hundreds of soldiers and at least 150 armored vehicles, towing artillery pieces and rocket launchers, crossed the border into Syria, witnesses said.
"Tomorrow everything will be over," a Lebanese military officer said Saturday, speaking on condition of anonymity, as is typical for military officials here.