Farmers armed with assault rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars forced Lebanese government troops to abandon an operation to destroy their illegal cannabis crop in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley on Monday, a witness said.
The farmers’ attack halted a morning raid by security forces, who had been flattening the tall spiky marijuana plants with tractors, accompanied by armoured vehicles.
No casualties were reported in the ensuing 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 tonnes of cannabis resin annually and 30 to 50 tonnes of opium, used to make heroin.
The crop was eradicated under a United Nations programme between 1991-1993 but it has re-emerged as the security forces struggle to control the volatile country.