- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 1, 2003

BEIRUT, Lebanon, March 1 (UPI) — Nearly 2,000 people demonstrated Saturday near the U.S. Embassy in Beirut against Washington's planned war on Iraq, but were prevented by Lebanese security forces from besieging the heavily-guarded compound.

Some 1,000 policemen were deployed in the vicinity of the embassy in the Awkar neighborhood, northeast of Beirut, before the protesters began to gather. They blocked the road leading to the embassy with barbed wire, preventing the demonstrators from further approaching.

The protesters burned U.S. and Israeli flags and waved placards that read: "Bush, Sharon and Blair are monsters" and "No to the U.S. aggression on Iraq." They also shouted against the rulers of Kuwait and Qatar, which have allowed U.S. forces access to military facilities. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was targeted as well for his lenient stand to avoid war on Iraq.

Some protesters, who support Islamic groups, shouted in support of al Qaida leader Ousama bin Laden, urging him "to lead us to (liberate) Tel Aviv."

They also broadcast parts of an old speech by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, whose Lebanese group fought Israeli forces until their ouster from south Lebanon in May 2000 after 22 years of occupation. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in New York and Washington, the United States placed Hezbollah on its list of terrorist organizations.

The group succeeded in removing the first police obstacles but were forced to disperse shortly afterwards.

Early Saturday, some 5,000 Lebanese and Palestinian refugees took to the streets in the city of Tyre in south Lebanon in support of Iraq and the Palestinians.

The demonstrators, who included Hezbollah followers and Muslim and Christian clergymen, waved Palestinians and Iraqi flags.

They called for a peaceful solution of the Iraqi crisis and to deter the United States from going ahead with its war plans against Baghdad. The protesters burned Israeli and U.S. flags as well as effigies representing President George W. Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

(Mohammed Darweesh in Tyre, south Lebanon, contributed to this report).

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