File- Snow covers the mountains in the Bekaa village of Arsal. (The Daily Star/Nidal Solh)
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The approaching winter is likely to lead to an increase in attacks by extremist groups ISIS and the Nusra Front either at weak points along the border or within Lebanon itself, analysts say, putting the Lebanese Army and Hezbollah at severe risk of being overstretched.Several thousand fighters allied with ISIS and Nusra are believed to be located in Syria's mountainous Qalamoun region that stretches along the Syrian-Lebanese border. Several hundred of these are camped out in the outskirts of Arsal, where heavy fighting with the Army broke out in August after they stormed the northeastern Lebanese border town. Jaber pointed instead to several other potential weak spots on Lebanon's border, including Akkar in the north and Shebaa in the south, as well as in West Bekaa. Crucially, he added, these were places where Hezbollah – which is also fighting the militants in Syria alongside the Syrian regime – does not have a strong presence and where the Shiite population was low to nonexistent. Whether there is cooperation or not – a controversial subject for many in Lebanon who disagree with Hezbollah's hefty non-state arsenal – the Lebanese Army is clearly braced for more border incursions in the coming months.
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