Protesters try to remove a metal barrier on the road leading to the Parliament. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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Downtown Beirut was the scene of hit-and-run battles between peaceful demonstrators and riot police Wednesday. Protesters assembled in front of An-Nahar newspaper's headquarters in Martyrs' Square, facing off with riot police at 9 a.m. The demonstration, called by the "You Stink" activist group, was held to coincide with and protest against the National Dialogue session in nearby Parliament, which brought together representatives of major parliamentary blocs. Demonstrators claimed that riot police filmed and memorized the faces of certain organizers and activists, and were targeting them specifically in order to break the movement's momentum.Suddenly riot police attacked the protesters and drove them back.Even the riot police themselves were not spared the anguish of the day.After the scuffle died down, protesters returned to the barricades and attempted to reason with officers. Some protesters gathered around the commanding officer and explained that it is the citizenry's right to assemble. Protesters then returned to the iron barricade and continued lecturing the police on citizens' rights.Demonstrators rushed to confront the riot police and a brawl ensued. Riot police beat protesters back to the Fouad Chehab Bridge in an attempt to disperse them. The ISF also said its members were protecting the tents of protesters.
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