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As the fighting in Iraq is characterized by the slow but definite retreat of ISIS, the situation in Syria remains fluid.The recent offensive in southern Syria by a joint force of the Syrian Army, Iraqi Shiite militias and Hezbollah has been partially motivated by extending Iranian influence along the Syrian-Israeli border, but also by denying ISIS continuous access westward to the Syrian-Lebanese border.A case in point is the Qalamoun area straddling the Lebanese-Syrian border where ISIS has reportedly grown to some 2,500 combatants by incorporating Free Syrian Army and Nusra Front elements. As the Jordanian and Israeli borders are impermeable, this western movement could eventually reach the southern Lebanese-Syrian border where ISIS has consolidated its presence.Defending the long and tortuous eastern borders of Lebanon has necessitated a coordinated effort between the Lebanese Army and Hezbollah since neither can secure it alone. However, no matter how much support the army receives, land-based firepower may not be adequate to repel a dramatic and concentrated advance by ISIS.
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