Arsal’s mayor said he had asked government officials and the Internal Security Forces to restore mobile internet services. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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The northeastern town of Arsal has been cordoned off with checkpoints and Lebanese Army patrols since 2014, when security forces briefly lost control of the town to fighters from Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, formerly known as the Nusra Front, and Daesh (ISIS) militant groups. Two years on, the remote border town is feeling doubly isolated, enduring an ongoing internet shutdown that has left the estimated 160,000 residents unable to access 3G and 4G services.Basil Hujeiri, the town's mayor, told The Daily Star Monday that he had firmly asked government officials and the Internal Security Forces to restore mobile internet services.An army source contacted by The Daily Star admitted that connectivity had at times been actively restricted due to "security concerns," but denied the existence at present of an official policy aimed at the prolonged disruption of mobile internet services.While there are no reliable figures on the economic impact of the suspension of mobile services on Arsal businesses, residents said the lack of easily accessible internet services had likely had a further negative impact on the local economy of a region already battered by poverty and unemployment.
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