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Lebanon's illicit cannabis trade goes up in smoke amid Syria war

Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley is notorious for its highly lucrative cannabis industry.

However, in recent years the illicit trade has suffered due to the war in neighbouring Syria. As a result, some are now turning to another crop for better income.

Al Jazeera’s Imtiaz Tyab reports from Bekaa Valley.


Syrian refugees risk Daesh wrath as they farm cannabis in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley

In Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, Syrian refugees wearing scarves over their faces work in fields of cannabis plants. Migrant workers from neighbouring Syria have done this work for many years, spending a few months a year in the region before returning home. However, since the rise of Islamic State, this has become a task that could put them, and their family back in Syria, at risk of harm including death because working with, getting close to or consuming drugs and alcohol is considered a sin in Islam. "If Islamic State back home knew we work with hashish, they would cut us" with knives, says Aisha, 15.

A woman and a 13-year-old boy sift through the twigs and buds of the recent harvest inside a garage filled with green dust and piles of cannabis.


Syrian refugees farm cannabis in Lebanon

BEKAA VALLEY, Lebanon (Reuters) - Inside a garage in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley filled with green dust and piles of cannabis, stand a woman and a 13-year-old boy, sifting through the twigs and buds of the recent harvest.

They are Muslim refugees from Raqqa province - de facto capital in Syria of Islamic State fighters - and part of an extended family of about 25 that fled in the past few years to live in tents in the relative safety of a Lebanese village.

The 29-year-old woman, who declined to be identified for safety reasons, left two months ago with her youngest son, 5, to join family including cousins, second cousins and grandparents.


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.


ISIS Fighters Are Buying Weed From Their Sworn Enemies

Bitter hatred and animosity aren’t stopping Shiite Lebanese farmers from selling weed to their sworn enemies — Sunni Islamic State militants — because, well, that’s business.

The Daily Beast spoke with farmers in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, supporters of the embattled Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, who are selling marijuana to Islamic State militants.

Lebanese Shiites typically support Syria’s Assad as a longtime regional ally, and the Islamic State, controlling territory in Syria and Iraq, are staunch enemies of the regime. Additionally, in Iraq, the Islamic State is fighting Iran-backed Shiite militias.


This Is Where ISIS Gets Its Weed

Most Lebanese hash is produced by Shia who are sworn enemies of the so-called Islamic State, but that doesn’t mean they won’t sell them a ton or two.

THE BEKAA VALLEY, Lebanon — They are killing Syrians and each other at an astronomical rate but there seems to be one thing that jihadist troops and Assad allies are working together on: getting high on Lebanon’s supply.

Just across a snow-capped mountain range, in the Bekaa Valley, are weed fields tended mostly by poor, Assad-friendly Shia farmers. But business is business. They tell The Daily Beast they are selling their products to ISIS recruits, who are allegedly blazing Lebanese blond and reselling it to fund their atrocities.


ISIS is Burning and Looting Marijuana Fields in Syria

On Tuesday, The Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, released a video showing its fighters burning down a marijuana field in a town it seized in north Syria.

The clip shows a marijuana field in the town of Akhtarin being torn down and torched while the fighters vilify the plant chopping down the bushes and setting them aflame.

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