Lebanon celebrated 69 years of independence on Thursday, marking the occasion with a military parade in the capital, Beirut.
Lebanese Independence Day commemorates the country’s liberation in 1943 after 23 years of governance by French Mandate that succeeded Ottoman rule.
Hundreds of red, white and green balloons were launched skywards after military helicopters flew above a parade of soldiers, cavalry and tanks.
Thursday’s celebrations come as the country faces a number of challenges - including the fear that the conflict in neighboring Syria could further enflame deep rivalries.
Lebanon is divided by pro- and anti-Syrian regime factions - a legacy of the almost three decades when Damascus all but ruled Lebanon, until 2005.
The government is led by the March 8 alliance, in which Syrian President Bashar Assad’s ally, Hezbollah, is a major component.
Lebanon still suffers from sectarian tension and deep rivalries between the different factions over their foreign affiliations.
Several Beirut neighborhoods and the northern city of Tripoli have seen repeated clashes between the parties backing the Assad regime and those supporting the revolution against him.
Lebanon also faces the challenge of keeping its southern border with Israel calm, after Israel’s offensive in Gaza ended in a ceasefire on Wednesday.
Two rockets that were fired from southern Lebanon towards Israel on Wednesday also showed how the country is vulnerable to conflicts outside its borders.
While the rockets fell short and landed near the border with Israel, the attack added another challenge to the Hezbollah-led government that prefers to stay firmly on the sidelines of the Israel-Gaza conflict.