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December 18, 2004
A Slow Syrian Retreat In Lebanon?

Syria seems to have responded to international pressure -- and the presence of 150,000 American troops on its eastern border -- and has "redeployed" its Lebanese contingent, moving them closer to Syria and out of the Beirut area:

Syria, under intense pressure to quit Lebanon, pulled out its security forces from three key positions in Beirut and north Lebanon on Saturday and redeployed them in eastern Lebanon.

The Lebanese army said in a statement the security positions that were vacated were in Beirut's international airport, the capital's Shi'ite southern suburb and one in northern Lebanon.

Syria has around 14,000 troops in its tiny neighbor.

Syria has been pressured for years to end its occupation of Lebanon, but has resisted closing out its second front against Israel. Since the American invasion of Iraq, however, Syria has learned that the politics of the region have changed rather dramatically. With George Bush's re-election, the Syrians understand that the forward strategy of engagement will continue for at least another four years.

The likelihood of a continued American military presence in western Iraq makes the Ba'athist regime in Damascus realize that after Iraq stabilizes, the US can act in one of two directions next to continue its war on terror. It appears that Bashir Assad just nominated Iran for that role.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 18, 2004 9:13 AM

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During a summit in Brussels the EU stated that a comprehensive Middle East peace must include Syria and Lebanon and called for Syria to pull it's troops out of the occupied country. But is that enough if Syria is still [Read More]

Tracked on December 19, 2004 11:29 AM

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