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Lebanon’s drug-producing heartland is back in business with a resurgence of marijuana and poppy fields, challenging the country’s underpowered security forces and adding another dimension to Israel’s war with Hezbollah militants.

Associated Press interviews with farmers and Lebanese officials, and documents from international organizations that monitor drugs, show that the drug trade in the Bekaa Valley (a Hezbollah stronghold) has ramped up again since its drop following the 1975-1990 civil war.

Israel’s Anti-Drug Authority claims Hezbollah is behind the flow of cross-border drugs as part of its war on the Jewish state, but Hezbollah denies any involvement in drug trade saying it’s un-Islamic.

Aram Nerguizian, an expert at the U.S.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., says Hezbollah has enough financial support without depending on drug money, but uses the drug trade to gather intelligence on the Israeli military. Source: AP

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