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    08 March 2005

    Lebanon, Sgrena

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    Those who think Lebanon is full of pro-West groups and that Syria is unwelcome there are greatly mistaken. The demographics of Lebanon contain sharp divisions in religion, between Christians (and other groups) and Shias. Today huge pro-Syrian demonstrations took place in Beirut, the first since the pro-democracy love fest of last week.
    Tens of thousands of people have gathered in Lebanon's capital, Beirut, to applaud Syria's role in the country and reject Western "interference".

    Crowds chanted "Beirut is free" and "America get out", as people streamed into a central square in the city.

    It is the first big show of support for Syria since opposition protests began last month for Syrian troops to leave.
    The rally has been organized by the powerful pro-Syrian Shia organisation Hezbollah, whose black-clad guards lined the area and took up positions on rooftops.

    The square is just a few hundred meters from the Martyrs Square area, where predominantly Christian, Druze and Sunni Muslims, including many westernised young people, have been holding their protests.

    A line of military vehicles separated the two squares to avoid a possible confrontation between rival demonstrators.

    "I came here today to say no to international intervention, the US, France and Israel. I came to thank Syria," said protester Zainab Farhat, who added that it was wrong to call Syria an "occupier".

    "You get rid of occupiers through bloody fighting, but Syria withdrew without any bloodshed," she said.

    Why does Syria have to pull out, and what will we do when the shooting starts again? Why can Israel, which I am very pro-Israel, continue to occupy portions of Syria and Lebanao. This is why many hate us, I would as well...


    An update of the Giuliana Sgrena incident, which I do not think that our troops would take part in a targeted killing even if ordered to by some heartless bushco operative giving orders. But what if they didn't know???

    Anyway BBC has an interview with Sgrena here:

    When did you become aware that your car was being fired at?

    We had no signal. We were just on the way to the airport. They started to shoot at us without any light or signal. There was no block, there was nothing. It was so immediate. I didn't know how I was alive after all that attack.

    Why do you think the Americans opened fire?

    We were not a hidden car. We were just a car on the road with lights and we were not running without any signal. So you have to ask the Americans because we don't know what happened.

    Did the Americans continue to fire when your car had come to a halt?

    Our car was destroyed. And then the driver got out and was shouting "we're Italian, we're Italian". So they came and they saw what happened. But I was badly injured so I can't explain exactly what happened after because I was waiting for 20 minutes on the road for a military car to bring me to the hospital.

    I don't know if they knew what they were doing or not but it's a big responsibility so they have to respond to what happened because it's impossible to shoot a car on a road to the airport without giving any signal, any stop or any check.

    Do you think it was deliberate?

    I can't say it was deliberate because we can't say if there was a lack of information. But also a lack of information in this case is [their] responsibility because you are in a war field and you have the responsibility to pass immediately any information.

    The information was given to the Italians to tell the Americans that we were on the road. Now, I can't say why they shot at us in this way but it's a very big responsibility and we ask for a response on what happened.
    How do you feel about the man who saved your life?

    I am very, very sad and feel pain for him. I'm sorry not to be able to go to the funeral because I am in hospital.

    He was a brave man.


    The assertion that the car was not speeding nor were there any warning shots was seconded by the Italian foreign Minister, but he maintained that it was an accident <link>.
    Italy’s foreign minister said Tuesday that the car carrying an intelligence officer killed by U.S. fire in Iraq last week was not speeding up and did not receive signals to stop, countering suggestions by American authorities.
    Fini was the first Italian official to openly dispute the U.S. account, and his comments put fresh pressure on Washington to get to the bottom of the matter. President Bush has promised a full investigation.

    Calipari, 50, was shot Friday as he headed to the Baghdad airport after securing the release of Giuliana Sgrena a month after the Italian journalist was abducted by Iraqi gunmen.

    “The car was traveling at a velocity that couldn’t have been more than 25 miles per hour,” Fini said. There were no attempts to stop the car, as indicated by the U.S. military, he added.
    “It was an accident,” he told lawmakers. “This does not prevent, in fact it makes it a duty for the government to demand that light be shed on the murky issues, that responsibilities be pinpointed, and, where found, that the culprits be punished.”

    He said Calipari, an experienced officer who had negotiated the release of other hostages in Iraq in the past, “made all the necessary contacts with the U.S. authorities,” both with those in charge of airport security and with the forces patrolling areas next to the airport.

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