BEIRUT — Dozens of Lebanese protesters held a raucous anti-US rally outside the fortified American Embassy in Beirut on Friday, denouncing what they said was Washington’s interference in Lebanon’s affairs while some chanted in support of the militant Hezbollah group.
The crowd, made up of mostly men, 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 US the “mother of terrorism.” The riot police eventually escorted the crowd away from the embassy area.
This is the second anti-US protest in Beirut this week amid strained US-Lebanese relations. Although the US, along with Israel and some other Western countries, has designated Hezbollah a terrorist group, Washington is also a major donor to the Lebanese Armed Forces.
Lebanon is facing an unparalleled economic and financial crisis, which has triggered anti-government protests and created domestic political tension between rival groups.
Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, recently blasted comments by US Ambassador Dorothy Shea criticizing his group and said Washington was seeking to turn public opinion against it.
Dozens of Lebanese also protested Wednesday near the Beirut airport, on the day Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the commander of the United States Central Command, visited Lebanon. The protesters denounced his visit and chanted “Death to America.”