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Syrian troops redeploy in Lebanon


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BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- Under building international pressure, Syrian troops Tuesday began a phased redeployment from posts in Lebanon, with about 1,000 forces pulling out of bases south of Beirut, Lebanese military sources said.

It was not immediately clear if the Syrian forces were simply moving to other locations in Lebanon, or were leaving the country altogether.

Lebanese government officials called the redeployment "significant."

CNN's Beirut Bureau Chief Brent Sadler said: "Top Syrian and Lebanese military commanders have been meeting in the Lebanese capital for several hours, working out the details of how these Syrian troops are going to redeploy.

"This is one of a series, over the past few years, of movements of Syrian troops within this country and this has to be seen in the context of strong international pressure, primarily led by the United States, for all Syrian forces to withdraw from Lebanon."

The United States and France drafted Security Council Resolution 1559 earlier this month after Syria asked top officials in Lebanon to extend the mandate of its close ally President Emile Lahoud.

The Lebanese parliament brushed aside the resolution, which also called for foreign armies to leave Lebanon, and amended the constitution to allow Lahoud to serve three more years.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is due to report to the Security Council on Syrian compliance with the resolution by October 2.

"Observers on the ground regard this as a significant response to the U.S. and French pressure on the Syrians to make military moves in Lebanon," Sadler said.

As many as 20,000 Syrian troops are in Lebanon, remaining since the end of the country's civil war about 16 years ago.

"They are seen as an impediment to the independence and the sovereignty of this country," Sadler added.


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