Water Cannon Fired at Stone-Throwing Protesters near U.S. Embassy

Dozens of Lebanese protesters held a raucous anti-U.S. rally outside the fortified American Embassy in Awkar on Friday, denouncing what they said was Washington's "interference" in Lebanon's affairs while some chanted in support of Iran-backed Hizbullah.

The crowd, made up of mostly young men who support Hizbullah and allied political parties, hurled stones at riot police near the embassy, from which they were separated by layers of barbed wire. Some protesters tried to remove the wire, at which point they were sprayed with water cannons.

The protesters burned American flags and mock-up dollar bills, calling the U.S. the "mother of terrorism." The riot police eventually escorted the crowd away from the embassy area.

This is the second anti-U.S. protest in Beirut and its suburbs this week amid strained U.S.-Lebanese relations. Although the U.S., along with Israel and some other Western countries, has designated Hizbullah a "terrorist" group, Washington is also a major donor to the Lebanese Army.

Lebanon is facing its worst economic and financial crisis, which has triggered anti-government protests and created domestic political tension between rival groups.

Hizbullah's leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, recently blasted comments by U.S. Ambassador Dorothy Shea criticizing his group and said Washington was seeking to turn public opinion against Hizbullah.

Dozens of Lebanese also protested Wednesday near the Beirut airport, on the day General Kenneth McKenzie, the commander of the United States Central Command, visited Lebanon. The protesters denounced his visit and chanted "Death to America."

Source: Associated Press, Naharnet

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