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IS fights for its window to the Mediterranean

As the Islamic State is gaining ground in Homs, which is close to the Lebanese border, the Lebanese army is preparing to counter any attempt to turn north Lebanon into an emirate affiliated with the terrorist organization.
Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam) rebel fighters walk inside a trench at the Tal-Kurdi frontline in the Eastern Ghouta of Damascus, May 10, 2015. Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam) fighters said that this was an operation to take control of the highway connecting Damascus to Homs, and that they have made advances in Tal-Kurdi. REUTERS/Amer Almohibany  - RTX1CD08

BEIRUT — A great part of the Syrian province of Homs has fallen into the hands of the Islamic State (IS) following the fall of Palmyra. Amid these developments, Lebanon is focusing on Homs. Meanwhile, the Syrian army has been regaining control over the Qalamoun barren lands since May.

Homs is divided into seven districts: Homs, al-Rastan, Palmyra, al-Mukharram, Taldou, Qusair and Talkalakh. Homs, the province’s capital, is Syria’s third city after Damascus and Aleppo in terms of economic and tourist significance. The Homs district lies roughly 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the Lebanese border and is deemed the closest strategic point to the border. Al-Rastan district is under Jabhat al-Nusra militants' control. Palmyra was seized by IS on May 20. The Al-Mukharram district is also being threatened by IS as clashes are ongoing between gunmen and the regime forces. The same applies to the Taldou district. The Qusair and Talkalakh districts both share a border with the northern Lebanese province of Akkar and the Jabal Akroum region.

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