BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanese security forces have removed roadblocks and barriers surrounding Beirut's downtown commercial district, which for years had been choked by security measures.

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri ordered the roads leading to the Parliament Square open days after the square witnessed its largest New Year's Eve celebration, with thousands of revelers, as part of a government initiative to revive the area.

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Berri on Wednesday urged business owners, restaurants, hotels and offices in the area to reopen after many of them had closed down, having given up on the area attracting visitors again.

The downtown area is home to Lebanon's parliament and government building and has in the past often been the scene of anti-government protests, prompting security forces to close down the premises to pedestrians with concrete barriers and barbed wire.

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