Retired army officers demonstrate in Beirut, May 20, 2019. (The Daily Star/Mohamad Azakir)
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Veterans pushed down metal barriers and faced down water cannons Monday, marching toward Beirut's Grand Serail as ministers met inside to discuss ways to slash the 2019 state budget. The crowd of over a thousand veterans, state workers and teachers was protesting against possible reductions in wages and end-of-service benefits being included in the draft budget.Protesters were then faced with water cannons from a security forces truck.One protester, identified as Rabih al-Halabi, was wounded by the water cannons and taken to a hospital, according to the state-run National News Agency.After the confrontation, a delegation representing the veterans was called into the serail to meet with Defense Minister Elias Bou Saab.Bou Saab said the only article in the budget affecting veterans was a 3 percent cut to their pensions to support health care and social services.Bou Saab said LL11 billion ($7.3 million) was added to the health care budget at the Defense Ministry along with a total of LL35 billion in social services.
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