Escaping Syria To Harvest Hashish In Lebanon

In a village in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, Syrians from Raqqa have been coming to harvest cannabis for almost a decade. Now, Raqqa is under Islamic State control and the border crossing is more difficult than ever.

One woman recently risked her life for work in Lebanon. Like the hundreds of harvesters in the village, she's not simply a migrant from Syria — she's from the ISIS capital of Raqqa, some 300 miles away.

NPR met her during hashish production time in a dimly lit shed on a winding village street. Inside, the smell of the cannabis derivative was pungent, and clouds of olive-green dust filled the air. Um Muhammad used her nickname, meaning Mother of Mohammed, for fear of what Raqqa's puritanical rulers might do to her family back home if they knew she was working in drugs.

Um Mohammed was sifting cannabis buds on a large screen with her...

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