Demonstrators scuffle with soldiers during a protest in Downtown Beirut.
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Supporters of the Free Patriotic Movement came face to face with the Lebanese Army on the streets of Downtown Beirut Thursday, and thrust forward against shields and batons to try to reach the Grand Serail.When the crowd did break through the Army's first line, they found themselves in front of another, just meters ahead. The Army withdrew in stages, twice deploying barbed wire. The Army reported seven injured personnel while demonstrators reported 17 hurt from among their numbers.The crowd was fiercely loyal to FPM leader Gen. Aoun has demanded that the Cabinet appoint a new Army chief before moving on to any other item. Earlier in the day, FPM Minister Gebran Bassil provoked Prime Minister Tammam Salam into erupting at him in front of cameras at a Cabinet meeting deadlocked over the issue of security appointments.Demonstrators echoed Aoun's language.As the demonstration wore on, the crowd grew increasingly antagonistic toward the Army.In 2013, a battle broke out in Sidon between Assir's supporters and the Army, leaving over 57 dead.
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