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Aug 15, 11:36 AM EDT

Lebanese army takes new areas on the border with Syria


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BEIRUT (AP) -- The Lebanese army said Tuesday that troops have advanced along the border with Syria, tightening the siege on areas controlled by the Islamic State group.

The Lebanese army said in a statement that the troops discovered bombs and explosive belts left behind by militants in areas captured on the edge of the Lebanese border town of Arsal. It said that they also found the body of an unknown man.

Tuesday's advance came a day after hundreds of insurgents and civilians returned to Syria from the Lebanon border area as part of a deal negotiated with the Lebanese. With the departure of members of the Levant People's Brigades rebel group and al-Qaida-linked fighters, only IS remains in the border area.

The Lebanese army has been preparing for an all-out attack on IS positions along the Syrian border for weeks, massing reinforcements and pounding the area with artillery shells and rockets. The Syrian army and Hezbollah are preparing for a simultaneous attack on the Syrian side of the border.

In eastern Syria, rebels shot down a Syrian government warplane in a desert area where Syrian troops and their allies are on the offensive against IS, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Mozahem al-Salloum, of the activist-run Hammurabi Justice News network.

Al-Salloum said the pilot was wounded in the crash but is in good health.

In June, rebels shot down a government warplane in the same desert area, known as Badia.

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