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For Some Lebanese, Feb. 14 has another meaning

This Valentine's Day weekend, Beirutis turned out in the thousands not to celebrate love but to remember the dead.

In Beirut on Saturday, four years to the day that Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri was assassinated, partisans of the so-called "March 14" movement turned out in Martyrs' Square.


The movement is named for the date in 2005, weeks after Hariri's death, when more than 1 million Lebanese turned out at a massive rally that, along with pressure from the international community, forced Syria to withdraw, at least overtly, from Lebanon.

At the time Hariri was killed, Syria had occupied Lebanon for nearly 30 years, maintaining de facto control over the government, military, intelligence services and economy. A United Nations inquiry found evidence that Syria may have been behind the murder. Syria denies any role.

Two days later, in another area of the capital, members of the  "March 8" movement — for the date in 2005 when Hezbollah supporters and their allies mounted their own pro-Syria rally in Beirut — gathered in the city's southern suburbs to mark a year since the killing in Damascus of senior Hezbollah official Imad Mugneeyah.  Mugneeyah was killed by a bomb planted in his vehicle. The group accuses Israel of the killing.

Read my Dispatch, A tale of two Lebanons, for the full story.