Syrian peace-keeping troops have started withdrawing from their positions in the Lebanese capital of Beirut.
GV Tanks through Beirut street (4 shots)
GV Military vehicles ZOOM OUT TO VERY WIDE SHOT of street
GV Lebanese Army check-point (with cars going through) (2 shots)
GV Traffic in Beirut streets
GV People pick up bricks, people watch from window, people clean windows (3 shots)
GV People look from balcony of apartment (2 shots)
GV Woman sitting on chair and knitting
GV Two boys on bicycle down street waving Lebanese flag
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Syrian peace-keeping troops have started withdrawing from their positions in the Lebanese capital of Beirut. It's part of a controversial plan to hand over their duties to Lebanese army regulars.
SYNOPSIS: Syria's withdrawal from Beirut's Christian Eastern Sector has been criticised by Moslem and left-wing factions in the city. They argue that the Lebanese army is sectarian and controlled by the right-wing. But the pull-out got off to a peaceful start on Friday (7 March).
There's been a Syrian force of 30,000 troops in Lebanon under an Arab League mandate since it intervened to help end the civil war in 1976.
The Syrians maintained their presence in the Moslem Western area of Beirut, but in order areas they began handling over roadblocks to Lebanese troops. The changeover came as the Lebanese Government pressed ahead with national reconciliation plans to prevent further bloodshed in the city. The government had asked Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad to delay the withdrawal, fearing new hostilities.
But a new attempt at reconciliation was made when the Lebanese Cabinet drew up a 14-point declaration as a basis for talks on national unity. The Lebanese Army commander, General Victor Khoury, was planning to visit Damascus to discuss an 'all-Lebanese security plan'. It could lead to the withdrawal of further security forces. Around three thousand Syrian troops have been left in Moslem West Beirut.
Moslem concern about the Lebanese army has been met by a government statement stressing that the army would be rebuilt on a basis that would be fair both to Moslems and Christians. It was hoped that this reassurance would head off further trouble.