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Is Lebanon becoming Syria's Western front?

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Last week, the parliamentary coalition requested the deployment of UNIFIL troops along the northern border and the expulsion of the Syrian ambassador to Beirut and lodged a complaint with the Arab League at Syria's repeated border violations. 

UNIFIL has been present in south Lebanon since 1978 but was heavily reinforced in the wake of the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon's militant Shiite Hezbollah organization. The UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which defines UNIFIL's post-2006 mission, includes a clause that permits it to help the Lebanese authorities prevent the smuggling of arms into Lebanon. The clause specifically refers to preventing the transfer of weapons from Syrian territory to Hezbollah's arms caches inside Lebanon.

But as far as pro-government Syrians are concerned, the security problem is on the Lebanese side of the border, where members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) are hosted by sympathizers who give them a haven to regroup, plan operations, treat wounded, smuggle arms into Syria, and mount periodic cross-border attacks against Syrian Army positions.

The scale of FSA activity in north Lebanon is minimal compared with that of Turkey, the main external base of the armed Syrian opposition. But the nightly Syrian artillery bombardments of a string of Sunni-populated border villages in the Akkar Province of north Lebanon, as well as cross-border raids elsewhere along the frontier, are attempts to interdict FSA militants crossing the border and to punish their Lebanese supporters.

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