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Syrian nationals anticipate no repeat of 2005 attacks.

Summary: SIDON: Syrian workers in Sidon are not afraid of suffering any harm as many Lebanese fear a new wave of violence might plague the country because of disputes over the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Moustafa al-Hassan, a Syrian who works in Sidon, told The Daily Star he did not have any fear about the situation. "I am not afraid, and there is nothing

SIDON: Syrian workers in Sidon are not afraid of suffering any harm as many Lebanese fear a new wave of violence might plague the country because of disputes over the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

Moustafa al-Hassan, a Syrian who works in Sidon, told The Daily Star he did not have any fear about the situation.

"I am not afraid, and there is nothing to be scared about, we are living with our people," he said while standing on a wooden scaffold in a construction site in the center of Sidon.

"We are not afraid of any harm or reaction against Syrian workers that occurred in the wake of [former Prime Minister Rafik] Hariri's killing," Hassan said. "We are persevering here, Syria and the resistance are stronger," he added.

In the wake of Hariri's assassination in February 2005, many Syrians working in Lebanon were violently attacked and others were killed as March 14 coalition parties, including Hariri's Future Movement, accused Syria of having a hand in the crime.

Another Syrian who works in and around the coastal southern city did not hesitate to give his name to the media.

"I will say it directly, my name is Mahmoud Miqdad and I hail from [the Syrian city] of Tartous," he said.

Miqdad spoke as he waited with tens of other Syrian nationals for the arrival of trucks loaded with cement bags near a roundabout leading to the town of Haret Sidon. The workers usually unload such trucks in construction sites in Sidon and its surrounding.

Lebanon's political crisis deepened as now-caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri's government collapsed after two months of paralysis over the S.T.L., which was established by the U.N. to try the assassins of Rafik Hariri and a number of political figures.

The court's indictment, which is widely expected to implicate Hizbullah, has fueled fears there will be an outbreak of strife in the country. The court's prosecutor Daniel Bellemare handed the indictment to pre-trial judge Fransen Monday.

"Don't ask me why I am still here, [it is because] my country is not responsible for the blood of Hariri," Miqdad said.

Bassam Hamad, another Syrian working in Lebanon, said the "situation in Lebanon is dangerous, Lebanese leaders should be aware." "We as Syrian workers are not afraid of experiencing angry reactions like the ones we suffered earlier."

"Don't forget that we now have a Syrian Embassy that is responsible for its nationals and that will sever its diplomatic relations [with Lebanon] if they were harmed," he said.

Other Syrian nationals also expressed their confidence that the Syrian Embassy in Beirut would protect them.

"We are not afraid, the Lebanese Army will defend Syrian nationals just like the Lebanese," Hamad added.

Miqdad dismissed rumors that Syrian workers had started to leave the country at the order of Syrian authorities in anticipation of the potential for them to be targets of violent attacks.

"Two hundred Syrian workers came to Sidon and its area yesterday to work in agriculture and construction sites C* they wouldn't have come if they expect to suffer any harm," Miqdad said.

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Publication:The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)
Geographic Code:7LEBA
Date:Jan 19, 2011
Words:596
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