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Lebanese protesters block fuel shipments to Syria

Feb. 13, 2013 7:29 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 13, 2013 7:29 P.M.)
BEIRUT (Reuters) -- Protesters in Lebanon blocked the northern border crossing with Syria on Wednesday to stop fuel shipments they said were being used to resupply President Bashar Assad's military.

Around 30 trucks were forced to stop on the Lebanese side of the Arida border crossing between the two countries and at one stage only pedestrians were able to cross over.

"Today we are seeing that the Syrian regime and Lebanese regime ... are transferring diesel to Syrian tanks, trucks and military vehicles from Lebanon," said parliamentarian Mouein Merehbi, who joined protesters at the border.

Syrian authorities, facing European Union financial sanctions over their crackdown on a 22-month-old uprising, have relied increasingly on fuel trucked from neighboring Lebanon to make up for a fall in larger international shipments.

Trading firms that previously did business with Syria have dropped out of the market for fear of falling foul of the rules or becoming associated with Assad's crackdown on protesters and rebel fighters.

The reduction in supplies has left many ordinary Syrians complaining of increasing shortages in heating oil and other fuel. The sanctions do not expressly ban all shipments of fuel but are aimed at a list of companies connected to Assad's government.

The blockade was lifted, at least partly, after several hours, but it was not clear if all the trucks were able to cross.
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