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News :: International
Al-Asad: Withdrawal to Bakaa Valley
05 Mar 2005
Syrian President Bashar al-Asad has addressed parliament and said his country's troops will first withdraw to the Bakaa Valley before redeploying along the border with Lebanon.
"In so doing, we will have implemented both the Taif Accord and UN Security Council resolution 1559," he told cheering members of parliament on Saturday.

"We started the withdrawal in 2000, and pulled back almost 60% of our troops. The number was 40,000 and at present there are only 14,000," he said.



"We admit that we made some mistakes in Lebanon," he added.



In the first official Lebanese reaction, opposition leader and prominent MP Walid Jumblatt said al-Asad's speech was a "positive start".



Jumblatt also demanded a timetable for Syrian withdrawal.


Al-Asad warns

Despite laying out plans for Syria's military redeployment and withdrawal, al-Asad warned "external pressures" - a reference to both French and US measures in the UN to force a Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon - would continue.

"The pressure [on us] and targeting of Syria will continue," he said.

Al-Asad also accused certain quarters of the international media painting a distorted picture of Syria and its government.

An obstacle



In his weekly radio address, US President George Bush on Saturday renewed his demand for Syria to withdraw its troops from Lebanon, describing the Damascus government as an obstacle to peace in the Middle East.



"Lebanese citizens who have watched free elections in Iraq are now demanding the right to decide their own destiny, free of Syrian control and domination.

"Syria has been an occupying force in Lebanon for nearly three decades, and Syria's support for terrorism remains a key obstacle to peace in the broader Middle East."



Aljazeera + Agencies
See also:
http://www.2la.org/lebanon/ee/terrorlb.htm
http://www.lgic.org/en/help_resistance.php

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