One wounded in Beirut as Syrians rally for regime

Syrian laborers in Lebanon held several demonstrations in favor of the embattled regime in Damascus on Sunday with one protester wounded in a drive-by shooting, security sources said.

The injured man, who was shot in the stomach, was taking part in a protest march in the Nabaa neighborhood of east Beirut when a passenger in a passing car opened fire, a security official, who did not want to be named, told AFP.

Some 150 protesters also demonstrated in front of the Syrian embassy amid heavy security.

A similar march was organized in a largely Sunni neighborhood of West Beirut where young men beat up several of the protesters before the army intervened and dispersed the crowd.

The National News Agency reported that the demonstrators entered the Tariq al-Jedideh area by “mistake” before clashing with residents.

Syria held significant sway in Lebanon until 2005 when it was forced to withdraw its troops after a 29-year presence in the aftermath of the killing of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri.

Damascus was accused by many of being implicated in the killing but has denied involvement.

A large part of Lebanon's Sunni and Christian communities are opposed to the authoritarian regime in Syria while the powerful Shia militant group Hezbollah and part of the Christian community are in favor.

More than 30 people have been confirmed killed in a spiral of violence that has gripped Syria since a wave of protests broke out on March 15, with demonstrators demanding reform.

-AFP/NOW Lebanon