A Hezbollah fighter stand guard in Qalamoun hights at the Lebanese Syrian border. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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A Russian force deployment on the Syria-Lebanon border last week in a Hezbollah stronghold sparked protests by the Lebanese militant group, prompting the force to withdraw from its positions only a day later in a rare sign of tension between the allies.The outskirts of the Syrian town of Qusair where the Russian troops set up three observation positions last Monday have been held by Hezbollah and Syrian troops since 2013, when they drove rebels from the area.Asked if there was tension between Hezbollah and Russian troops, the official refused to comment, speaking to the Associated Press by telephone from Syria on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters. He said that after the Russian troops left, Syrian forces belonging to the army's 11th Division replaced them.Russia has been reportedly mediating for Iranian troops and Hezbollah fighters to withdraw from areas close to the Israeli border where Syrian troops are expected to launch an offensive against rebels.The Russian Parliament voted in December to extend Russia's lease of the naval base in the Syrian city of Tartous for 49 years, following Putin's announcement of a partial pullout of Russian troops from the war-torn country.
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