Syria & Lebanon

Protesters back on Beirut street

Lebanese protesters took to the streets again on Sunday after unprecedented overnight violence in Beirut in which nearly 400 people were injured.

Security forces fired water cannon at young men hurling stones outside parliament. Protesters chanting “Revolution” tried to climb over barbed wire and fencing to storm the building.

Security forces urged people to remain calm, or they would be forced back.

“We’re not scared. This is all for our future and our children,” said protester Bassam Taleb.

“The country is frozen. The state is not doing a thing, they’re a bunch of thieves. And if you have money in the bank, you can’t even get a hundred dollars out.”

One protester taunted security forces with a flame-throwing aerosol, as others shone bright green laser lights in their direction. Anti-riot forces responded with water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets.

The new violence followed a five-hour confrontation between protesters and security forces near parliament on Saturday night.

Demonstrators tried to penetrate a security fence and iron barriers to reach parliament, lobbing firecrackers and anything else they could find including traffic lights, tree branches, manhole covers and tiles.

Security forces retaliated with water cannons and tear gas, and the Lebanese army was contacted for backup.

Lebanon has been experiencing unrest since October, when people took to the streets to protest against corruption, the political elite and economic hardship.

But Saturday night’s demonstrations were the most violent so far and there is no indication that public anger is abating.

Saad Hariri stepped down as prime minister on Oct. 29 but has remained in a caretaker capacity. Hisnominated successor, Hassan Diab, has been unable to form a government amid sectarian political squabbling.

Hariri said: “There is a way to calm the storm. Stop wasting time, form a government, and open the door for political and economic solutions. Having the army, security forces, and protesters in constant confrontation is going in circles, not finding a solution.”

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