- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 9, 2003

BEIRUT, Lebanon, March 9 (UPI) — Thousands of Lebanese joined Syrian protesters Sunday to hail their leaders for opposing a possible U.S. war against Iraq and supporting the Palestinians in their struggle against Israel.

The Lebanese protesters, including ministers, parliamentarians and party leaders, met at the Presidential Palace in Beirut's eastern suburbs where a group of them met with President Emile Lahoud.

Lahoud emphasized the need for Arab solidarity "during this sensitive and critical phase because our division will further weaken us, harm our interests and at the end lead to the partition of the Arab region."

He said Sunday's march coincided with similar demonstrations in the world calling for a peaceful solution of the Iraqi crisis, especially that the reports of U.N. inspection chiefs Hans Blix and Mohammed el-Baradei last Friday showed "Iraq has been seriously cooperating with the international organization."

The protesters waved Lebanese, Syrian, Palestinian and Iraqi flags and shouted slogans denouncing the U.S. massing of troops in the region as a prelude for attacking Iraq.

They then boarded cars and buses and headed the 70 miles to Damascus where they joined Syrian protesters and marched together to the Syrian People's Palace.

The official Syrian News Agency SANA said thousands Lebanese and Syrians crowded Damascus roads to denounce U.S. war plans against Iraq.

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