File - Bomb disposal experts attend a police and army joint drill in Beirut, Friday, May 24, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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Every day, Captain Bassam Bitar prepares his men for combat. Instead of using assault weapons and mortars, Bitar's elite Internal Security Forces unit is armed with engineering degrees and advanced training to think like terrorists who would seed carnage and chaos in Lebanon. The ISF's explosives unit has just 15 experts and a few dozen trainees who respond to more than 4,500 calls each year. As the security situation across Lebanon deteriorated over the past year, work picked up for Captain Bitar and his team. Instead of housing the entire unit in the Beirut central office, they dispatched small two or three-man teams across the country to cut the response time. The equipment, much of which has been provided by the United States, has proved vital to safely executing missions, Bitar said.Unfortunately, Bitar said the unit does not have the resources to proactively prevent explosive materials from passing into Lebanon or to determine where bombs are being constructed in the country.
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