Lebanese army flags flutter on a poster with an Arabic writing that reads:" Shebaa farms are Lebanese and it will return to their rightful owners, " in the southern village of Shebaa, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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Like many border towns in Lebanon, Shebaa has remained underdeveloped due to years of war and geographical marginalization. The town's mukhtar, Ramez al-Khatib said that prior to the Israeli occupation of the Shebaa Farms, the town's residents earned their livelihoods from agriculture and shepherding. According to the town's Mayor Mohammad Saab, concern over fallout from Syria affecting Shebaa prompted the municipality to launch local patrols, as other border villages Ras Baalbek and Al-Qaa have done.Security sources maintain it is unlikely that the scenario in Arsal, where militant groups have consolidated a presence in the town's outskirts, will be repeated in Shebaa.Gaining a foothold in the geographically isolated Shebaa would not be as strategically effective for militant groups, according to security sources.The Lebanese Army has also bolstered its positions along the Mount Hermon area, and General Security recently erected a post in Shebaa to note the names of Syrians who enter. Security forces have told refugees in the town that they are permitted to stay in Shebaa but no further into Lebanon. The danger of renewed conflict would be exacerbated should Israel decide to offer militants safe passage to Shebaa through the portion of Shebaa Farms it occupies, security sources and experts agreed.
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