The Army reinforced its presence on the slopes overlooking the village of Ain Ata. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)
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The narrow winding road climbs between pine trees and fruit orchids up to the scenic village of Ain Ata, nestled on the slope of a hill adjacent to Mount Hermon, in the Bekaa Valley's district of Rashaya. A laid-back atmosphere of peace and tranquility prevails in the narrow streets of this community of 2,900 people, located just across the mountain from Syria's Golan Heights. However, the impression of peace is deceptive, according to Ain Ata's Mayor Talih Khodor, who told The Daily Star about public concerns that violence would spill over from the other side of the border. Recent clashes, which pitted the Lebanese Army against militants from Syria's Al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and ISIS in the border town of Arsal last month, further aggravated fears among other border communities that violence in adjacent Syrian territory would spread into their area.Residents of Ain Ata want the Army to block all illegal passages in the outskirts of the town, often used by Syrians to infiltrate this part of the Bekaa Valley. Seven Syrian gunmen and three Lebanese smugglers were arrested in Ain Ata after being intercepted in a van last week.Khodor echoed Wehbi's comments, expressing satisfaction with recent Army reinforcements.
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