Mansour and his wife sit on the terrace of their house in Ras Baalbek. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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The sound of artillery explosions resonated strongly from the hills overlooking this Christian village bordering Syria in northeast Lebanon, but the few thousands residents looked unmoved.The Lebanese Army deployed heavily in the rugged mountains surrounding the area in February, seizing strategic hilltop posts from ISIS militants. In addition to the Army, the residents set up armed groups and collaborate with the Hezbollah-backed "Resistance Brigades" in monitoring the outskirts of the village, behind the Army lines. Toufik Mansour, a member of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, a pro-Syrian regime group, said some 50 SSNP fighters were also stationed outside the village, as a backup for the Army. In case of an attack, over 1,000 more could be mobilized and dispatched to Ras Baalbek within hours.Mansour applauded the Army's pre-emptive attack on ISIS positions last month, during which troops seized at least two strategic hilltop posts, al-Jaresh and al-Hamra, tightening the noose on the militants and restricting their ability to move.
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