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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bush: Syria Should Quit Lebanon

BEIRUT, Lebanon -- U.S. President George W. Bush called on Syria on Thursday to withdraw its forces from Lebanon as Lebanese opposition leaders vowed to topple the country's pro-Syrian leadership.

Pressure has been piling up on Syria and its Lebanese allies since Monday's killing of former premier Rafik Hariri, the country's most influential politician, in a suspected car bombing that many Lebanese blame on Damascus.

Bush said Syria should adhere to a UN resolution demanding its troops leave Lebanon and should allow an election scheduled for May to be free and fair.

Bush recalled the U.S. ambassador to Syria this week in reaction to the bombing. At a news conference, he said he did not know who was behind the killing.

Voices from across Lebanon's various ethnic and religious communities, encouraged by the tough anti-Syrian stance of the United States and France, are now telling Damascus and its local allies it is time to go.

"The day will come when we will get brooms and sweep away this dirt, the criminal authority, the terrorist authority," Druze leader Walid Jumblatt told reporters at Hariri's house. "This day will come soon and all of the Lebanese people will rise and send them to hell."

The Lebanese central bank moved to calm market jitters over the impact of the death of the billionaire businessman who masterminded Lebanon's rebuilding after its 1975-90 civil war.