Lebanon: The Syrian spill-over

The turmoil in Syria is threatening to spill over into neighbouring Lebanon. On Tuesday night, a small group of protesters holding a vigil outside the Syrian embassy in Beirut were attacked by pro-Assad thugs (see video above).

"It was all planned. They came, started chanting for Bashar and then started getting closer to us," one of the demonstrators told the Los Angeles Times. "We didn't provoke them. As they chanted 'We sacrifice ourselves for you, Bashar,' we chanted over them, 'We sacrifice for you, Syria,' and then they attacked us ... There were some men who were guiding Syrian labourers towards us, telling them what to do."

The attackers are said to have used belts, stick and knives. Seven people were reportedly injured, several of them seriously.

The Daily Star and Ya Libnan also have reports about the attack.

There are claims that police guarding the embassy disappeared as the trouble began. Other police arrived later but were apparently reluctant to get involved.

Lebanon currently has a pro-Syrian government and is also at present the only Arab member of the UN Security Council. On Wednesday, it dissociated itself from the council's presidential statement condemning human rights abuses and attacks on civilians in Syria.

A Lebanese representative at the UN said afterwards:

"While we expect our deep regret for the loss of innocent victims and we offer our condolences to their families, we hope that Syrian reform will lead to progress and prosperity. 

"But since Lebanon considers that the statement being discussed in our meeting today does not help in addressing the current situation in Syria therefore, Lebanon dissociates itself from this presidential statement."

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 4 August 2011.