DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — President Bashar Assad has committed to withdrawing all Syrian troops and intelligence agents from Lebanon, U.N. envoy Terje Roed-Larsen said Saturday.
It appeared that Roed-Larsen was able to obtain a timetable from Assad, which he did not make public.
“I will present U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan with further details of the timetable for a complete Syrian pullout from Lebanon upon arrival in New York early next week,” Roed-Larsen said in a statement after meeting with Assad in the northern city of Aleppo.
“The meeting was very constructive and I am much encouraged by President Assad’s commitment to the full implementation of Security Council resolution 1559,” he said.
“The president has committed to withdraw all Syrian troops and intelligence from Lebanon in fulfillment of Security Council resolution 1559,” Roed-Larsen said in the statement read to The Associated Press by Roed-Larsen’s spokesman Najib Friji.
The report came after a 62-vehicle convoy carrying Syrian troops and equipment withdrawn from northern Lebanon crossed the border early Saturday.
Syrians at the frontier welcomed the troops home, throwing flowers and chanting, “We love Syria!”
But intelligence agents remained in nine offices in northern Lebanon, and the U.N. Mideast envoy said Syria needs to produce a timetable for a full withdrawal from the rest of Lebanon.
The civilians gathered under the roof of a Syrian customs checkpoint, seeking shelter from the cold and heavy snow that delayed the crossing for several hours.
They waved Syrian flags and blew whistles. Some handed flowers to the soldiers, while others threw rice, rose petals and sweets in a traditional Arab welcome. Some in the crowd sang national songs to the beat of drums.
The convoy crossed the border at Jedeidet Yabous, 30 miles from Damascus and 62 miles east of Beirut, the Lebanese capital.
Under international pressure, Syria this week began pulling its 14,000 forces back to the eastern Bekaa Valley.