Burning tyres block roads in Lebanon general strike

Thousands of Lebanese protesters blocked main roads in Beirut and around the country with rubble and burning tyres on Tuesday at the start of a general strike called by the opposition to try to topple the government.

The opposition, which includes Hezbollah, is demanding a unity government and early elections.

Protesters in Beirut, north, south and east Lebanon went to the streets almost all at once at around 6am (4am GMT) and began blocking off roads.

Most main roads inside Beirut and into the city were blocked. Highways linking the capital to north and south Lebanon as well as to the Syrian capital Damascus were also cut off at several locations.

The road to Beirut’s international airport, Lebanon’s only such civilian facility, was blocked off.

Plumes of smoke from burning tyres rose above Beirut formed a black cloud which hung over the city.

Lebanese security forces struggled to open blocked roads obstructed by the sheer number of protesters.
Soldiers made little effort to intervene in a southern suburb which is a stronghold of Hezbollah.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Monday called on supporters to be ready for more steps which the opposition might announce to press its demands.

Prime Minister Fouad Siniora’s Western-backed government has shrugged off the demands and is instead preparing for an international aid conference in Paris on Thursday that it hopes will yield billions of dollars for Lebanon’s debt-laden economy.

The opposition’s campaign, which started on December 1 with an open-ended protest in central Beirut, has been largely peaceful. ‒ Reuters

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