Four years ago, Lebanon's north-eastern borderlands with Syria came to the forefront of media attention as the entry point for Hezbollah fighters to participate in the battle to capture the key Homs countryside town of al-Qusayr from Syrian rebels. Though there had already been reports of Hezbollah 'martyrs' through fighting in Syria, al-Qusayr was the first major engagement in the Syrian civil war in which Hezbollah's role became widely publicised, not unjustified considering that the group lost dozens of fighters in the battle.
Hezbollah has partly justified its intervention in Syria on the grounds of protecting Lebanon's borders as well as Lebanese citizens. In the case of the border areas of the northern Beqaa and the Homs countryside, there is a basis of reality to these ideas. While some Syrian regime border guard checkpoints exist, there is still no border fence here, and there are in fact thousands of people of Lebanese nationality who have been living on the Syrian side of the border since well before the Syrian civil war. These Lebanese people resident in Homs countryside border villages like Zeita are mostly Shi'a and related to their compatriots on the Lebanese side of the border.