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Lebanese marijuana farmers fight security forces - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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BEIRUT (Reuters) – Farmers armed with machineguns, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars forced government troops to abandon an operation to destroy their illegal cannabis crop in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley on Monday, a witness said.

No casualties were reported in the exchange of fire but two security force vehicles were hit by bullets, the witness said.

During Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war, the fertile Bekaa Valley produced up to 1,000 metric tons (1.1023 * 1000 tons) of cannabis resin annually and 30 to 50 metric tons of opium, used to make heroin.

The crop was eradicated under a United Nations program between 1991-1993 but it has reemerged as the security forces struggle to control the volatile country. There are no reliable statistics on how much cannabis is produced in Lebanon now.

Security forces run operations to destroy annual marijuana crops but face resistance from angry farmers who see the lucrative and easy-to-grow crop as a way to make money for their impoverished community.

A security source said government forces were regrouping and planning a new operation to destroy the crop.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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