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Syria Informs UN Lebanon Withdrawal Complete


Syrian soldiers applaud as they cross the Lebanese border point of Masnaa in the Bekaa Valley, east of Beirut
Syria has informed the United Nations that its withdrawal from Lebanon is complete.

Syria's U.N. Ambassador Fayssal Mekhdad came to the Security Council chamber Tuesday to confirm that the pullout was, in his words "full and complete."

"I have just submitted a letter to both the secretary-general and the president of the Security Council from his excellency Mr. Farouq al-Sharaa on behalf of the Syrian government confirming the Syrian full withdrawal from Lebanon in terms of withdrawing the troops, the security apparatus and the assets,” he said.

Syria's letter takes note of what it calls, "the positive role its forces played in ending Lebanon's civil war," and asks for recognition from the Security Council in line with the significance of its withdrawal.

Ambassador Mekdad refused to discuss whether Syria considers the pullout premature, but said he could not deny that it had been done under international pressure.

The withdrawal was completed as Secretary-General Kofi Annan submitted a report to the Security Council on Syria's compliance with Resolution 1559. The resolution adopted last September demanded the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon.

The Secretary-General's report confirms the troop withdrawal, but notes that other provisions of resolution 1559 have not been met.

A U.N. team sent to verify the withdrawal has already begun work in Damascus. A spokesman said the group would gather material in the Syrian capital before heading to Beirut.

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