Thousands of Lebanese waving flags massed in a central Beirut square Tuesday to commemorate the first anniversary of the assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri, answering a call by anti-Syrian groups seeking to show their popular strength amid deep political divisions.
Thousands of troops and policemen, backed by armored vehicles, sealed off Beirut's downtown area to provide security and guarded approaches to the Lebanese capital, where organizers were hoping that hundreds of thousands would participate in a show of unity.
The main pro-Syrian Shi'ite Muslim groups, Hezbollah and Amal, are not taking part in the demonstration, which is expected to be largely dominated by Sunni Muslims from Hariri's sect and Christian and Druse allies. Amal is holding its own commemoration later Tuesday in southern Lebanon.
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