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by Mark dameli
Thursday, Mar. 17, 2005 at 8:08 AM
Syria has pulled all major spy centers from Beirut, ending a 15-year reign of terror and leaving the Lebanese capital to breath free from the watching Moukhabarat eyes and listening ears for the first time since the end of the civil war.
syrian_terrorist.jpg, image/jpeg, 280x280
The three principal intelligence compounds in Beirut's commercial thoroughfare of Hamra, the posh Ramlet el Baida seaside residential neighborhood and the mid-city Beau Rivage district have been vacated, the local media said Wednesday.
Furniture and personal affects of the officers manning the three centers were packed on Syrian army lorries which headed for the Beirut-Damascus highway en route for Syria. The last packed truck left the Beau Rivage before first light Wednesday, media reports said.
A huge poster carrying portraits of Syrian President Bashar Assad and his father, the late Hafez Assad, were taken off an Iron frame spanning the Saeb Salam overpass in the Raouche district. A Bulldozer was seen knocking down two small buildings attached to the Beau Rivage complex.
Lebanese police cordoned off the three districts while the spy centers were being dismantled and contents trucked away. Groups of jubilant Beirutis clapped and cheered from a distance, waving Lebanese national flags. Lebanese troops took charge of the three vacated compounds.
The Beirut evacuation came as the Syrian army completed 80% of the first stage of a withdrawal plan announced from the Syrian parliament by President Assad last week.
An Nahar said 4,000 troops have thus far been withdrawn from the central mountains above Beirut, of which 4,000 crossed the border into Syria proper and 2,000 fanned out in east Lebanon's Bekaa Valley.
Between 6,000 and 7,000 Syrian soldiers have almost completely withdrawn from northern Lebanon into Syria, leaving behind some six intelligence compounds with small garrisons of troops guarding them in Tripoli and Akkar. The spy centers are expected to be withdrawn before the end of March, the deadline set for the first evacuation stage.(Photo shows evacuation of Beau Rivage complex underway)
Beirut, Updated 16 Mar 05, 10:15
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||Thursday, Mar. 17, 2005 at 9:37 AM
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