Thousands of Lebanese protesters gathered in Beirut late Sunday in defiance of a government ban on public demonstrations due to mounting public outcry over the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The rally started before an opposition sit-in scheduled for today (Monday). The opposition called the protest and a one-day strike to coincide with a special session of parliament that is to consider a no-confidence motion against the Beirut government. Lebanon's opposition blames the government and its backer Syria for the car bombing that killed Mr. Hariri and 14 others two weeks ago. Both Damascus and Beirut have denied involvement. Meanwhile, top U.S. envoy David Satterfield is in Beirut to press U.S. demands that Syria withdraw all of its estimated 14,000 troops in Lebanon.