MASNAA, Lebanon, (Reuters) – Syria allowed trucks to cross its border from Lebanon on Monday after weeks of delays that brought Lebanese overland exports to a near standstill, witnesses and security sources said.
They said hundreds of trucks that had been stranded at the border were moving across at a normal pace, a day after Lebanon”s new Prime Minister Fouad Siniora visited Damascus to smooth ties strained since Syrian troops pulled out in April.
Syria and Lebanon agreed on Sunday to set their tense relations back on track after Damascus ended its 29-year presence in its neighbour amid furious anti-Syrian protests.
Leading Lebanon”s first government since Syrian troops withdrew, Siniora raised the issue of easing tough new border controls introduced by Damascus over the past month, which have inflicted major financial losses on Lebanese exporters.
Syria had said the restrictions were a security measure after customs officials found explosives on a truck bound for its territory.
But the Lebanese saw them as retaliation for the anti-Syrian sentiment unleashed after the killing of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri in a Beirut car bombing in February.
Many Lebanese blamed Syria, which kept a tight grip on its neighbour”s politics after the 1975-1990 civil war, for the killing. Damascus denies any role.
Witnesses and security sources said at least 150 trucks had crossed the eastern Masnaa border post that is the main route to Damascus and over to Jordan and Iraq.
They said export traffic was also flowing smoothly through a northern crossing linked to Syria”s coastal cities. Syria is Lebanon”s only open land border and route to Arab markets as the tiny country”s border with arch-enemy Israel is closed.