Syrians were drawn into the conflict, and clashed with the Israeli troops after the 1982 invasion aimed at driving out Palestinian guerrillas. In 2000, Bashar Assad became president of Syria, succeeding his late father, Hafez Assad. Israel withdrew from South Lebanon, increasing pressure on Syria to leave. Syrian troops pulled out five years later, after sweeping street protests following Hariri's assassination. Many in Lebanon and its Western-backers blamed Syria for the killing. Damascus has denied involvement.
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