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The Syrian Step News Agency, a pro-rebel news outlet, reported on May 24, 2021, that the Iran-backed Shi'ite Lebanese militant group Hizbullah has recently begun planting cannabis near Al-Bukamal in eastern Syria, near the Iraqi border.
A photo from the Step Agency article shows one of Hizbullah's cannabis fields near Al-Bukamal.
The Step Agency quotes a "local source in Al-Bukamal," who claims that Hizbullah has planted cannabis over a 40-dunam (0.04 km2 or 9.88 acre) area in "dozens of plantations" in the fertile area along the Euphrates near the Syria-Iraq border, and that the first crop, which has flourished in the local climate, is due to be harvested soon.
According to the source, the supervisor of the cannabis-growing operation is Hizbullah commander Haydar Saqr. The local source adds that Hizbullah chose the Al-Bukamal area because from there it is easy to smuggle the drug into Iraq.
The Step Agency notes that, according to Project Cassandra, a United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) effort to prevent Hizbullah from benefiting from the sale of illegal drugs, the militant group makes a profit of $500 billion annually, $1 billion of which is derived from its activities smuggling and dealing illegal drugs.
The agency reports that Hizbullah smuggles drugs from Lebanon into Iraq via eastern Syria, and claims that, based on "unofficial reports," as recently as May 19 the group smuggled 20,000 pills of the Captagon (Fenethylline) drug from Syria into Iraq.