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Lebanese chief vows to end violence


An anti-Syrian protester attempts to hang a Lebanese flag at the site of an explosion in an industrial zone of a mainly Christian neighborhood in Beirut, Lebanon, on Sunday. 
 (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
An anti-Syrian protester attempts to hang a Lebanese flag at the site of an explosion in an industrial zone of a mainly Christian neighborhood in Beirut, Lebanon, on Sunday. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Bassem Mroue Associated Press

BEIRUT, Lebanon – Pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud pledged on Sunday to fight the violence gripping his country after three bombings in eight days raised fears of renewed sectarian bloodshed, while Syria withdrew more troops from Lebanon in line with international demands.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and a senior U.S. envoy condemned the attacks.

Syrian troops, meanwhile, continued dismantling positions in Lebanon’s eastern Bekaa Valley on Sunday and headed home – a key demand of the United States, United Nations and the Lebanese opposition.

Some 35 military trucks, loaded with soldiers, equipment, and ammunition and towing anti-aircraft guns entered Syria at the Masnaa border crossing late Sunday, local journalists said.

The convoys left positions in the Deir Zanoun hills near Anjar in the valley close to the border and near a Syrian army radar station in the central Lebanese mountains.

Syrian soldiers also were dismantling eight other positions near the city of Baalbek and were expected to leave after midnight. Previous troop withdrawals have proceeded in the same fashion.

Leaders of the anti- and pro-Syrian camps also held their first talks in seven months.

The meeting between Druse leader Walid Jumblatt and Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, of the powerful Syrian-backed Hezbollah militant group, came amid a political deadlock hampering the formation of a Cabinet to arrange parliamentary elections before the May 31 expiration of the current legislature’s term.

Lebanon’s anti-Syrian opposition has been courting Hezbollah, which is widely admired in the country for its social assistance and its military role in forcing Israel to leave southern Lebanon in 2000 after an 18-year occupation.

For its part, Hezbollah is seeking opposition assurances that it won’t push for the group’s disarmament following Syria’s final troop withdrawal.

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