Thousands of Lebanese gathered in Beirut on Tuesday to mark the seventh anniversary of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, amid calls for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down.
Speaking via videolink from France, Hariri’s son Saad said Assad’s demise was “inevitable” and expressed solidarity with Syrian protestors demanding regime change.
Rafik Hariri was killed along with 22 others in 2005 when a massive truck bomb targeted his convoy as it passed through Beirut’s seafront. His slaying was the first in a number of political assassinations widely blamed on Syria and prompted protests that forced Damascus to withdraw its military troops from Lebanon after almost 30 years of control.
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Saad Hariri entered Lebanese politics following his father’s assassination, becoming Prime Minister in November 2009. His government was toppled in January 2011 after Hizbullah and its allies withdrew from the Cabinet in protest against the United Nations investigation into Rafik Hariri’s killing, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
An indictment filed in August by the Netherlands-based Tribunal accused four members of Hizbullah of involvement in the assassination. The Shiite group has denied involvement.
Hariri called on Hizbullah to review its position on the Tribunal and to end its support of the accused men, saying continued backing “only emphasized its involvement in the assassination.”