Some 400 Lebanese women arrived in Syria Sunday to show solidarity with the protesters – the pro-government protesters, that is. They women did not come to to side with the activists calling for reform and democracy, but rather to support Bashar Assad's regime.
The women, who intended to set sail from Lebanon to the Gaza Strip aboard the Miriam ship in June 2010 but were eventually barred from doing so, chose a more easily accessible destination this time – Damascus. They travelled overland to stand with Assad against "the schemes being plotted against him."
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At 7 am, the women boarded eight buses and set out from Beirut's Gallery Hotel towards the Beqaa Valley.
Samar Al-Hajj, a spokeswoman for the group, expressed contentment with the initiative's progress.
'We shed tears of happines'
"The Lebanese and Syrian security forces have facilitated the convoy's passage at the border, and congratulated it," she said in an interview with the Hezbollah-affiliated Al Manar television station. "Upon arriving on Syrian land, they welcomed us in a moving manner. We, Miriam's women, cry only on happy occasions, and we did shed tears of happiness.
"We came to Syria to tell the truth, because it is the land of truth and resistance," Al-Hajj said. "We came to stop the attempts to isolate Syria, and to remove the barriers of fear inseminated by those worried about the people and the regime's strength."
'Palestine is high priority'
In a press conference held in Beirut last weekend, Al-Hajj also addressed the situation south of Lebanon's border, and the shelved idea of the Gaza-bound flotilla.
"Palestine is a high priority, but our initiative took a different direction – to stand by Syria against the difficult circumstances it is dealing with," she said. "Syria is dealing with an attempt to breach its security, stability, sovereignty, economy and the safety of its citizens. Its internal affairs should not be meddled with."
Al-Hajj is known for her strong ties with Hezbollah and Syria, which appear to be what prompted her to embark on the journey to support Assad in his hour of need. Syrian opposition sites that reported on the bus convoy stressed that the participating women are pro-Palestinian.
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