File - A genial view of agriculture fields in Arsal, Monday, June 18, 2012. (The Daily Star/Rakan al-Fakih)
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When Ahmad al-Breidy, an Arsali fruit farmer, went last week to check on the state of his orchards in the town's embattled outskirts, a Syrian rocket fell a narrow 30 meters away from where he was huddled, patiently trimming roots.Arsal's once-prolific farmers appear to be the inadvertent victims of spillover from the Syrian civil war into Lebanon, as routine airstrikes conducted by the Syrian regime and hostile rebel presence on their orchards have prevented an overwhelming number from harvesting their fruit, wreaking havoc on the local agrarian-based economy.As a result, cereal production declined and was replaced, after an estimated 2 million trees were planted, with cherries and apricots.Fifty years later, the shift to fruit production, based exclusively in Arsal's highlands between ranging from 1,200 to 2,200 meters, served to modify the landscape of the town's rugged taupe outskirts. By the time Syrian rebel groups took refuge in the area, local fruit yields supported 60 percent of Arsali households.Suham Ezzedine's father owns three different cherry and apricot orchards in the northern outskirts, but hasn't managed to visit any of them due to security fears. Hasan Hujiery went to check on his orchards just four days ago.
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