In 2005, Lebanon celebrated Independence Day without Syrian troops on its soil for the first time in three decades, after Damascus withdrew its forces from the country in April that year after two decades of domination.

The Syrian pull-out came after the assassination in February of Rafiq Hariri, Lebanon’s former prime minister, by a massive car bomb in Beirut. Syria was widely blamed for the killing, but denied any involvement.

In 2006, Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel was assassinated on the eve of Independence Day.