Lebanese soldiers patrol the area in Labweh, Monday, Aug. 4, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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The boom of artillery is sporadic, the road to Arsal clear save for Lebanese Army reinforcements patrolling along a paved stretch surrounded by plum and fig orchards.It is tranquil enough to contemplate a possible future, after the fighting raging nearby has subsided; when the Sunnis of Arsal, a hub of support for the Syrian opposition, now overtaken by militants, and their Shiite neighbors in Labweh will again live in peace. Labweh has become a village-sized barracks for the Lebanese Army, as the Army battles militants based in Arsal.Though the people here see Hezbollah and the resistance as a complement to the military, many insist that only the Army can be a guarantee of civil peace and a force of unity among the Lebanese.Shehadeh Hjouli, a Labweh resident whose home lies on the outskirts of the town on the road to Arsal, said residents here considered Arsali families their own.Hjouli blamed some Sunni sheikhs and politicians for stoking the fire of sectarianism, saying they were only concerned about maintaining their popularity.He points to the many intermarriages between Sunni and Shiite families in Arsal and Labweh in years past.
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