March 24th, 2013
06:15 AM ET

Mikati steps down, upends Lebanese politics

The news of Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati's resignation spurred fierce weekend clashes in his hometown, the coastal city of Tripoli.

Residents lobbed rockets and fired bullets at one another Saturday, leaving at least three people wounded, state news agency NNA reported.

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Lebanon's government resigns
Lebanese Prime Minister Nijab Mikati resigned Friday after failing to quell disputes within his cabinet.
March 22nd, 2013
03:54 PM ET

Lebanon's government resigns

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati announced the resignation of his government Friday amid what his spokesman said were disputes among his cabinet over preparations for parliamentary elections and the future of a top Lebanon security official.

Mikati, who led a coalition government for the last two years, made the announcement live on Lebanese TV.

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Filed under: Lebanon • Middle East • World
March 18th, 2013
01:51 PM ET

Syrian jets fire into Lebanon, reports say

Two Syrian jets fired three rockets that hit empty buildings near the Lebanese town of Arsal near the Syrian border Monday, a local source said. There were no injuries, according to the source.

Also, Lebanese state-run news agency NNA reported that Syrian warplanes attacked sites in northern Lebanon.

This latest violence comes as the Syrian conflict enters its third year. The unrest started in March 2011 when President Bashar al-Assad's government launched a fierce crackdown on protesters. The discontent evolved into a full-blown civil war that has left more than 70,000 dead and more than 1 million refugees.

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October 24th, 2012
05:11 AM ET

U.S. supports new Lebanese government coalition, spokeswoman says

Four days after Lebanon's intelligence chief was killed in a car bombing, the United States said it will back the Lebanese opposition's call for a new cabinet free of Syrian influence.


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October 23rd, 2012
02:00 AM ET

The latest key developments in the unrest in Lebanon

Editor's Note: Since the assassination last week of Lebanon's intelligence chief, Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan,  sporadic fighting has erupted across Lebanon, threatening to plunge the country into chaos and raising fears that it could be drawn into the bloody 19-month-old civil war in neighboring Syria. It's a complicated situation with several key players. Here are the latest developments for Tuesday: 

[Update 6:20 a.m. ET] Lebanon’s Interior Minister Marwan Charbel says the discovery that the car bomb was placed in a stolen Toyota RAV 4 could result in leads that would help the investigation.

[Update 6:15 a.m. ET] Prime Minister Najib Mikati signs a declaration referring al-Hassan's assassination the nation's Judicial Council.  He says the process needs to move faster.


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October 22nd, 2012
01:33 PM ET

Threat by text, then Lebanon official killed in bombing

[Updated at 1:33 p.m. ET] A team from the FBI is going to Lebanon to assist in the investigation, U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Monday.

[Posted at 9:13 a.m. ET] Lebanon's top intelligence official was going to be briefed about threats made by text message, a member of parliament told CNN on Monday.

The meeting was scheduled for Friday afternoon. Brig. Gen. But Wissam Al-Hassan never made it. He was killed Friday in a Beirut car bombing.


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October 22nd, 2012
04:02 AM ET

Beirut still simmers after weekend clashes

[Updated 6:02 a.m.] At least three people are killed Monday, including two in Tripoli and one in the city of Sidon, according to NNA, the official Lebanese news agency.

Meanwhile, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the United States will provide assistance in the investigation a car bombing Friday that killed several people, including Lebanon's intelligence chief, Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan.

[Updated 4:22 a.m.]  The youth wing of the March 14 coalition has called for a rally in Beirut's Martyrs’ Square in Beirut. It said the rally will be peaceful.  The March 14 movement is an anti-Syrian regime coalition that emerged after the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.


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'Day of rage': Gunfire, tear gas in streets of Beirut
October 21st, 2012
09:37 AM ET

'Day of rage': Gunfire, tear gas in streets of Beirut

[Updated at 10:25 a.m.] Many protesters are calling for the Lebanese government to be dismissed.

Protesters are furious with Prime Minister Najib Mikati, a billionaire supported by Hezbollah.  Read more here.

[Updated at 10:11 a.m.] Former Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, on Lebanese TV, said he understands the feeling of anger, but that violence and attempts to enter the Serial - the government palace - are unacceptable.

[Updated at 9:52 a.m.] Much of the violence appears to have died down.  Video from the scene shows most protesters gathered in a square, chanting and waving flags.

The flags indicate many of the protesters are aligned with the March 14 movement,  the anti-Syrian regime coalition that emerged after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005. That movement was key in forcing the withdrawal of Syrian troops, which had long occupied neighboring Lebanon and pulled out months after Hariri was killed.

Some protesters accuse Syria of involvement in al-Hassan's assassination.  Syria condemned the blasts very quickly after they happened on Friday.

Read CNN's profile of Wissam al-Hassan here.

Lebanon's former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri - Rafik al-Hariri's son - spoke to al-Jadeed TV, calling on supporters to stay away from the Serail, the government palace.

[Updated at 9:42 a.m.] Tear gas filled streets of Beirut and gunfire could be heard Sunday as furious protesters clashed with police.

Crowds of men - many of them covering their faces with cloths to avoid inhaling the tear gas - wielded sticks and waved flags.  Video showed at least one stick set on fire and tossed over a barrier.

Reports indicated the gunfire may have been authorities shooting into the air in hopes of breaking up the crowds.

Many of the protesters tried to reach the prime minister's office.

The violence came after some politicians had called for Sunday to be a "day of rage" in response to a bombing Friday.

That attack was the country's most high-profile assassination in more than seven years.

Soldiers had carried the flag-draped coffins of  intelligence chief Brig. Gen Wissam al-Hassan and his bodyguard through the streets of downtown Beirut.

Throngs of people had packed the city's central square for the ceremony Sunday.

Friday's attack - in broad daylight, at one of the capital's busiest intersections - left a crater more than a meter deep.

October 21st, 2012
02:40 AM ET

Lebanese official, Syria critic to be buried Sunday

Lebanon's top intelligence official, Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan, will be buried Sunday alongside the grave of his mentor, former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.

Al-Hassan, a critic of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's rule, was killed in a Beirut car bombing Friday. Some blame the attack on the Syrian government.

His death spurred fears that Syria's civil war could boil over into neighboring Lebanon.

Al-Hassan's funeral procession will begin at 1 p.m. (6 a.m. ET) Sunday. He will be buried in Martyrs' Square in Beirut.

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October 20th, 2012
11:18 AM ET

Syrian leader under fire over Beirut bombing

A day after the most high-profile assassination in Lebanon in more than seven years, accusations over who's responsible homed in on the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Prime Minister Najib Mikati, a billionaire supported by Hezbollah, announced Saturday that he plans to stay in power, despite having offered his resignation to appease those who claimed al-Assad was behind Friday's car bombing that killed Lebanon's intelligence chief, Brig. Gen Wissam al-Hassan.

"To hold me personally responsible for the assassination is unfair," he told reporters. "I have always respected and admired al-Hassan, who has done great things for Lebanon."

Mikati's decision to stay heads off a power vacuum in Lebanon's government, as sectarian tensions flare particularly as the effects of Syria's 19-month civil war spill across borders and threaten the region.

The senior Lebanese security official and at least nine others died in the explosion in the typically peaceful and cosmopolitan Ashrafiyeh district of East Beirut.

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October 19th, 2012
12:25 PM ET

Car bomb strikes Beirut

Editor's note: A car bomb exploded in the heart of Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, the country's National News Agency (NNA) reported. Below is our live blog of how we learned the news as it came in and here is the full story from Lebanon. Are you in Beirut? Share your photos and video with iReport. Follow this story in Arabic on

[Updated at 12:25 p.m.] A Lebanese political source who did not want to be named told CNN that it had been 99% confirmed that Wissam al Hassan, the chief of the information branch of Lebanon’s internal security service, was killed in the blast. "There is an unrecognizable body found, and they have found his personal belongings at the scene," the source said.

[Updated at 10:49 a.m.] Syria - which borders Lebanon - condemned Friday's deadly car bombing in Beirut,  the state-run news agency reported. Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi called it a "coward terrorist attack."

[Updated at 9:59 a.m.] CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom said the popular, predominantly Christian neighborhood struck by the blast was "the last place nowadays you would expect this kind of violence."  FULL POST

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Obama: Americans laid down lives 'in service to us all'
President Barack Obama speaks Friday at a ceremony in for the four Americans killed Tuesday in Benghazi.
September 14th, 2012
01:23 PM ET

Obama: Americans laid down lives 'in service to us all'

Editor's note: Several protests stemming at least in part from an anti-Islam film produced in the United States are unfolding outside U.S. embassies around the world. Friday's protests follow ones Tuesday at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, where attacks killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans.

In Tunisia, protesters have scaled a U.S. Embassy gate and set fire to cars on the property, a journalist there says. In Egypt, the influential Muslim Brotherhood canceled nationwide protests planned for Friday, but a running battle between police and protesters in Cairo continued into its fourth day.

Follow the live blog below for all of the developments around the world.

[Updated at 3:04 p.m. ET] A ceremony at Maryland's Joint Base Andrews for the returned bodies of the four Americans killed at the Benghazi consulate has ended, and the caskets are being carried to hearses. See the 2:59 and 2:51 p.m. entries for remarks by President Barack Obama, who said the four laid down their lives "in service to us all."

[Updated at 2:59 p.m. ET] President Barack Obama, at a ceremony at Maryland's Joint Base Andrews for the returned bodies of the four Americans killed at the Benghazi consulate, added:

"The United States of America will never retreat from the world. We will never stop working for the dignity and freedom that every (person) deserves. ... That’s the essence of American leadership. ... That was their work in Benghazi, and that is the work we will carry on."

At the beginning and toward the end of his remarks, Obama cited the Bible's John 15:13: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." Obama said the four killed Americans laid down their lives "in service to us all."

"Their sacrifice will never be forgotten," Obama said.

[Updated at 2:51 p.m. ET] President Barack Obama, at a ceremony for the returned bodies of the four Americans killed at the Benghazi consulate, is now eulogizing the four at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.


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Filed under: Egypt • Lebanon • Libya • Sudan • Tunisia
July 7th, 2012
05:45 AM ET

Firing from Syria kills 2 in Lebanon

Two rocket-propelled grenades fired from Syria on Saturday landed in a Lebanon border town, killing two people and wounding two others, Lebanon's National News Agency reported.

The victims in the Wady Khaled attack were Syrian refugees, the news agency said.

The Lebanese Red Cross issued conflicting numbers, saying one person was killed and four injured.

The victims were all from the same family and were transported to a hospital, said George Kettaneh, a spokesman for the Red Cross.

The fatality was a young girl, he said.

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May 21st, 2012
03:24 AM ET

Soldiers shoot anti-Assad clerics in Lebanon, triggering fresh violence

In the latest instance of the unrest in Syria spilling across the border into Lebanon, deadly clashes broke out in Beirut on Monday following the shooting death of two anti-Assad clerics at the hands of soldiers.

Two people were killed and 18 wounded in the Lebanese capital early Monday as clashes flared between rival political parties - one supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the other opposing him - the country's National News Agency said.

The violence followed the killings just hours earlier of two anti-Assad clerics who were shot at a military checkpoint in northern Lebanon.

The histories of Lebanon and Syria have long been intertwined.

Syrian troops were deployed in Lebanon between 1976 and 2005, primarily in the north. They were initially called in to help stop a brewing civil war, but maintained their significant presence, which once numbered 40,000, long afterward.

In a country struggling to maintain a delicate balance among its religious and ethnic sects, resentment from the occupation lingers.

Some Sunni Muslims are staunchly anti-Assad and sympathize with the Sunni-led uprising in Syria calling for his ouster. Support for Assad is also plentiful, particularly in the south.

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Low-scoring hoops player drops 113 in game
Mohammad El Akkari's tally on Tuesday was 105 points more than his season average.
April 4th, 2012
04:46 PM ET

Low-scoring hoops player drops 113 in game

Mohammad El Akkari isn't exactly his basketball club’s usual No. 1 scoring option. He averaged 7.6 points in the first 23 games of the Lebanese Division A League Final 8 season.

On Tuesday, he appears to have made an argument for taking a few more shots.

Akkari, a guard playing for Moutahed of Tripoli, scored 113 points - including 32 three-pointers, and only one free throw - in his team’s 173-141 win against Bejjeh, according to FIBA Asia.

He is the first player to score more than 100 points in an official game in any of the leagues under the umbrella of Asia’s basketball governing body.

Akkari shot 32-for-59 (54%) from behind the 3-point arc, and an overall 40-for-69 from the field.

“Thank God for this performance. I think it’s all a result of my practice,” Akkari said after the game, according to FIBA Asia. “I also want to thank my coach for letting me play that long and all my teammates for helping.”


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Gilad Shalit story: Exchanging one for many not a first for Israel
A Palestinian prisoner is held aloft by relatives after arriving in Mukata following his release Tuesday in Ramallah, West Bank.
October 18th, 2011
10:11 AM ET

Gilad Shalit story: Exchanging one for many not a first for Israel

Israel is freeing more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, including hundreds serving life sentences for attacks on Israelis, in exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was captured by Hamas in 2006. 

Who is Shalit?

The move has prompted many to ask if exchanging many people for one man is unusual. In the past, Israel has exchanged prisoners several times with its neighbors. Overall, Israel has released about 7,000 Arab prisoners over the last 30 years in exchange for 19 living Israelis and the bodies of eight prisoners. Here are some of those instances:

In 1985, three Israeli soldiers held in Lebanon were released, but only after Israel freed 1150 Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners.

In June 1998, Israel and the South Lebanese Army released 65 prisoners and the remains of 40 Hezbollah guerrillas for the return of the body of an Israeli soldier killed in combat.

In 2004, an Israeli businessman was released along with the remains of three soldiers. In return, Israel freed 436 Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners.

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Tribunal indictments in Lebanese leader's killing
A photo of Rafik Hariri at his memorial in Beirut, Lebanon.
June 30th, 2011
09:18 AM ET

Tribunal indictments in Lebanese leader's killing

Two of the four people indicted in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri are senior members of the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, multiple sources in the region told CNN on Thursday.

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon issued the indictments and a U.N. source familiar with the body said the people include alleged perpetrators on the ground. The sources said they include Mustafa Badreddine and Hasan Oneisa.

Badreddine is the brother-in-law of Imad Monghneiye, a former Hezbollah commander who was assassinated in Syria in 2008. Badreddine  is reported to be a member of Hezbollah's advisory council. The other names on the list are Salim Ayyah and Asad Sabra.

Two additional lists of indictments are expected later this summer and are expected to include the organizers and planners of the attack, the U.N. source said.

Suspected connections to Hariri's death which link the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah and the Syrian government have raised tensions in the country, stoking fears of sectarian conflict erupting in the ethnically and religiously diverse nation. Syria was mired in a civil war from 1975 to 1990.

Hezbollah has had longstanding animosity toward the tribunal based on the expectation that some of its members would be indicted as conspirators in Hariri's assassination.

Hezbollah is a political faction in Lebanon and provides social services to Shiites. However, it has long been regarded as a terrorist organization and an ally to Iran by the United States.

The movement, which fought a war on Lebanese soil with Israel five years ago, claims the tribunal is a plot involving the United States, Israel and France. Ibrahim Mousawi, a Hezbollah media relations officer, said it had no immediate reaction to the indictments.

Rafik Hariri and 22 others were killed on February 14, 2005, when a bomb went off as his motorcade passed by. Saad Hariri, Rafik Hariri's son and a former Lebanese prime minister, said on Thursday the indictments were issued after years "of patience and waiting and a constant national struggle."

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Lebanon PM names new government
Lebanese prime minister-designate Najib Mikati is a Sunni political independent who is backed by Hezbollah and its allies.
June 13th, 2011
09:45 AM ET

Lebanon PM names new government

Lebanon's prime minister-designate Najib Mikati has formed a new government that he hopes will receive the backing of parliament, he announced Monday, five months after the country's last government fell.

Mikati promised a "government of all of Lebanon and will labor for all Lebanese. There will be no divisions or distinctions between those who formed the government or those who opposed it."

The government of the last prime minister, Saad Hariri, was brought down in January by the Shiite Hezbollah movement.

Mikati is a Sunni political independent who was backed by Hezbollah and its allies.

But local media reports Monday suggested that Hezbollah and the Amal movement of parliament speaker Nabih Berri did not support the Cabinet line-up.

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Bomb hits U.N. convoy in Lebanon; casualties reported
May 27th, 2011
10:52 AM ET

Bomb hits U.N. convoy in Lebanon; casualties reported

An explosion targeted a convoy of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon near a stadium in the Lebanese city of Saida, the Lebanese Army said Friday. The blast caused casualties, it said. Additional details were not immediately available.

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Pew: U.S. image largely unimproved in Middle East after 'Arab Spring'
President Barack Obama is scheduled to make a major address Thursday on U.S. policy toward the "Arab Spring" uprisings.
May 17th, 2011
09:37 PM ET

Pew: U.S. image largely unimproved in Middle East after 'Arab Spring'

The United States' image in four Middle Eastern nations and the Palestinian territories largely doesn't appear to have improved during anti-government uprisings that have shaken regimes in the region, a survey from the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project found.

Fewer people in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon view the United States favorably now than in 2010, while small gains were seen in Egypt - where an uprising toppled longtime leader Hosni Mubarak earlier this year - and the Palestinian territories, according to the survey.

Pew said America's image also dipped in the two other predominantly Muslim nations that were surveyed: Pakistan and Indonesia.

The results of the survey, which was taken between March 21 and April 26, come as U.S. President Barack Obama prepares to deliver on Thursday a highly anticipated address on U.S. policy toward the "Arab Spring" uprisings that have shaken autocratic regimes across North Africa and the Middle East.


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