A general view of Brital, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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The paved road, once a smuggling route, leads through Hezbollah and Lebanese Army checkpoints to a majestic view of the Qalamoun mountains, perched across the deep valley. Behind the closest peaks is a road that once led from Syria's Zabadani to the embattled Lebanese border town of Arsal, now severed as a result of Hezbollah and the Syrian army's takeover of the villages on the Syrian side of the border, from Rankous to Asal al-Ward, and the emptying of the Lebanese border enclave of Tfeil. Hezbollah was not always so firmly entrenched in this majority-Shiite border village, which in October repelled a surprise attack by Nusra Front militants on a party observation point on its mountainous outskirts.Brital has long been fiercely independent, and residents said the village was split between supporters of Hezbollah and others who would have preferred not to see its influence on the rise at the start of the Syrian uprising.Now, residents say the majority supports Hezbollah's actions and many villagers of Brital have allowed the party to use their land to protect the village.
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