Lebanon battles wildfires in country's north, firefighter dies

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Smoke billows from a fire in Qobayat, Lebanon July 28, 2021 in this image obtained from social media. Mouarbes Jean /via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT.

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BEIRUT, July 28 (Reuters) - Raging wildfires have burned large swathes of Lebanon's pine forests in the mountainous north of the country, killing at least one firefighter and forcing some residents to flee, the National News Agency said on Wednesday.

The country's fire brigade and army are trying to control the fires fueled by strong winds in villages in the northern Akar region, the state-owned agency said.

President Michel Aoun gave orders to army and civil defence chiefs to get help from Cyprus which in previous years had sent helicopters if the forest fires got out of control.

In the last two years, hundreds of fires have swept across Lebanon and the coastal highland regions of neighbouring Syria during summer heat waves that reached residential areas and forced hundreds of people to evacuate their homes.

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Reporting by Laila Bassam; Writing by Suleiman Al-Khalidi Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

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