Lebanon closes "military route" at Syrian border

Lebanon has closed a military route that crossed its border into Syria to stop the unmonitored flow of high-ranking officials and goods that has continued between both countries for nearly three decades, the official National News Agency reported Sunday. The army move came nearly eight months after Syria, under heavy international pressure, following the February 14 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, withdrew its troops from Lebanon, ending 29 years of military and political control of this country. The Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation reported that the route was opened in 1976 and was used "not only (for) military (purposes), but also for political, commercial, services, security and other matters." Lebanese troops took control of the cross-border route from Syrian forces after their last soldier left Lebanon on April 26 in the wake of mass anti-Syrian protests that accused Damascus of playing a role in Hariri's killing. Syria denies the claims. The Lebanese Army canceled all permits to use the route on Oct. 22, "except for Lebanese military personnel going to Damascus on official assignments relating to the requirements of logistical support between the two brotherly armies," according to the agency report.