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10 Dec, 2017 08:40

Tear gas fired as rioting protesters break down US embassy gates in Beirut (VIDEO)

A massive rally is taking place outside the US Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, with protesters rioting and shouting pro-Palestinian slogans in the wake of Washington’s decision on Jerusalem. Tear gas and water cannon have been deployed to control the crowd.

The protesters, some waving Palestinian flags, threw projectiles at security forces and set fires in the street next to the US Embassy, located in the Awkar region north of the Lebanese capital.

Rioters ended up bringing down the gates of the metal fence surrounding the compound, despite water cannon constantly pushing them back. Tear gas has been repeatedly fired to disperse the crowd, while protesters threw what appeared to be smoke grenades across the fence.

Among other things, the rioters reportedly burned US and Israeli flags and an effigy of Donald Trump, sending plumes of black smoke into the air.

Lebanese Communist Party head Hanna Gharib addressed the demonstrators, calling the US “the enemy of Palestine.” The US embassy in Beirut is “a symbol of imperialist aggression” which must be closed, he added.

On Friday the US Embassy in Beirut issued a warning, saying that “several groups have announced public protests” and there were reports of “possible protests” on December 10. “Demonstrations have the potential to become violent. US Embassy Beirut reminds US citizens of the need for caution and awareness of personal security. We urge US citizens to avoid all protests,” the statement from the embassy said.

Tensions are running high across the region and around the world now that US President Donald Trump has officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Since Wednesday evening, massive protests have been held throughout the Middle East, as well as in Asia and Europe.

Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun slammed Trump’s decision, calling it dangerous and a threat to the credibility of the US as mediators of the peace process in the region. The country’s Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, tweeted that Beirut had the “utmost solidarity with the Palestinian people” and their “right to establish an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.”

On Sunday, the foreign ministers of the Arab League countries called for the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution condemning Trump’s decision on Jerusalem.

“We have taken a political decision not meant to reflect [what is going on in] the streets. Political work is responsible work,” said Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul-Gheit. “Jerusalem has been occupied for 50 years. This is an extended battle, a battle that will be escalated.”

If Washington vetoes the resolution, the Arab ministers will ask for a similar resolution in the UN General Assembly, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki said.

Some 450,000 Palestinian refugees are currently living in camps across Lebanon, according to government data.