A Lebanese soldier stands guard in a watch tower on the outskirts of Ras Baalbeck, Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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Cutting across the edge of the northeastern town of Ras Baalbeck, a Lebanese Army soldier confidently drove his Humvee through an area until recently off-limits to the military. Carefully navigating his way through the rugged outskirts, he drove The Daily Star team to one of the Army's newly built bases.The sites were constructed once border regiments were fully deployed along the northeastern border with Syria, after 2017's "Fajr al-Joroud" military operation against militants. In August 2017, the Army moved in to clear the area of militants in an operation dubbed Fajr al-Joroud, or Dawn of the Outskirts.Since then, the Army's 2nd Land Border Regiment – based in Ras Baalbeck – has extended its presence right up to the line with Syria.The distance between positions varies but the terrain makes moving between watchtowers slow going – one reason the Army takes measures to ensure that soldiers are stocked with whatever they need for any eventuality.The watchtower is one of seven new positions that have been built since Fajr al-Joroud as part of a United Kingdom-funded border project. The initiative supports the Army's four land border regiments deployed from north Lebanon to Hermel and down to south Lebanon near Mount Hermon. The project, under which the U.K. is assisting to build 75 watchtowers and FOBs, plays an important role in helping the Army maintain a tight grip on the once porous border.
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