File - Lebanese fighters, supporters of Hezbollah, take positions in the Syrian border town of Zeita, 5 km from the Lebanese northeastern village of al-Qasr, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013. (The Daily Star/Rakan al-Fakih)
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Residents of the northeastern town of Arsal are growing increasingly worried about their safety as a battle between Hezbollah and members of the Syrian opposition edges ever closer to the town.Since July 12, Hezbollah fighters, backed by Syrian aerial and ground bombardment targeting rebel hideouts in the mountainous outskirts of Arsal, have engaged in fierce fighting with members of the Nusra Front and the Free Syrian Army as part of the resistance party's attempts to root out rebel groups from border areas with Lebanon. Mohammad Hujeiri, one of Arsal's residents, said he was worried about Hezbollah trying to take revenge against the town after the party's media outlets accused locals of helping Syrian rebels, a large number of whom are deployed on the town's mountainous outskirts.Dr. Kassem al-Zein, a Syrian providing medical relief to refugees in Arsal, said the residents of the predominantly Sunni town had been threatened by Hezbollah supporters in the nearby town of Labweh. Many other rebel fighters also live in the town.Similarly, residents in Shiite villages in the northern Bekaa region near the border with Syria are worried that the fighting between Hezbollah and Syrian rebel groups could jeopardize their safety.
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