(Updates with Saad Hariri comments in fourth paragraph.)
Feb. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Thousands of Lebanese rallied in Beirut on the seventh anniversary of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri’s killing and backed calls for the overthrow of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“I salute you, Homs and Daraa,” said Samir Geagea, head of the Christian Lebanese Forces, in reference to two cities that have been central to the 11-month revolt against Assad. Faris Soueid, another Christian politician, read a statement from the opposition Syrian National Council that predicted the collapse of the Syrian government and better relations between the two neighboring countries. Amin Gemayel, Lebanon’s former president, said “any party that obstructs these revolutions will be held responsible in history.”
Many Lebanese blamed Syria for Hariri’s killing, leading to street protests that forced an end to Syria’s military occupation of Lebanon.
“The Syrian people will triumph,” Saad Hariri, the former premier’s son, told supporters via a video link from Paris, after a skiing injury last month prevented him from attending. “The Syrian regime will inevitably fall,” he said, adding, “we are living a moment of historic transition from one era to another.”
Saad Hariri’s government was toppled in January last year when the Shiite Muslim Hezbollah movement and its allies quit the Cabinet in a dispute over the United Nations investigation into Rafiq Hariri’s killing.
Hezbollah says the probe was biased against it and its backer, Syria. An indictment filed by the tribunal last year named four people affiliated with Hezbollah as being involved. The group, like Syria, has denied killing Hariri.
“I call on Hezbollah’s leadership to adopt a new approach in dealing with the Special Tribunal because insisting on protecting the accused will not cancel the indictments,” Hariri said.
--Editors: James Hertling, Louis Meixler
To contact the reporter on this story: Massoud A. Derhally in Beirut, Lebanon, at email@example.com.
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at firstname.lastname@example.org.