Syria to redeploy forces in Lebanon
Lebanon said on Thursday Syria would redeploy some 3,000 troops from the outskirts of Beirut east toward the Syrian-Lebanon border, in an apparent bid to ease US-led pressure over its influence on Lebanon.
Lebanese sources said the two-stage redeployment, once completed, would leave Syrian troops concentrated in a smaller area of Lebanon and largely restrict them to the strategic eastern Bekaa Valley.
Lebanese officials had earlier said that the redeployment began early yesterday. But a security official said it would take place over several days. Hours after the troop shift was announced, witnesses in Damour, along the coastal road to south Lebanon, and elsewhere said Syrian troops were packing but in position.
The redeployment follows mounting US-led international pressure on Syria to withdraw its 17,000 troops from Lebanon and stop interfering in its neighbour's affairs.
But it is unlikely to loosen Syria's political grip on Lebanon, where its allies are entrenched in the government.
It was not immediately clear how many Syrian troops would remain in the Bekaa Valley and whether others would return home but security sources said around 3,000 soldiers would be relocating from positions around the capital.