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Fenethylline is a popular drug in Western Asia, and is allegedly used by militant groups in Syria. It is manufactured locally in a cheap and simple process and it sells for between $5 and $20.[clarification needed] According to some leaks, militant groups also export the drug in exchange for weapons and cash.
On 26 October 2015, a member of the Saudi royal family, Prince Abdel Mohsen Bin Walid Bin Abdulaziz, and four others were detained in Beirut on charges of drug trafficking after airport security discovered two tons of Captagon (fenethylline) pills and some coc aine on a private jet scheduled to depart for the Saudi capital of Riyadh. The following month, Agence France Press reported that the Turkish authorities had seized 2 tonnes of Captagon during raids in the Hatay region on the Syrian border. The pills, almost 11 million of them, had been produced in Syria and were being shipped to countries in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf.
The drug is playing a role in the Syrian civil war. The production and sale of fenethylline generates large revenues which are likely used to fund weapons, as well as combatants on both sides using the stimulant to keep them fighting.
References to the drug were found on a mobile phone used by Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a French-Tunisian who killed 84 civilians in Nice on Bastille Day, 2016.
Beijing views the United States’ approach to Syria as driven by Washington’s desire to use the civil war as a pretext to overthrow the Assad regime in order to weaken Iran’s growing power and influence in the Middle East. In contrast, Russia has been firm in its commitment to root out what it calls the “terrorist” threat there in support of the regime in Damascus, and Beijing has been impressed by the manner in which Russia’s decisive moves have had an effect that years of attrition on the battlefield failed to achieve. So Beijing may now have arrived at the conclusion that supporting Assad and taking sides with Russia is the most viable option to effectively combat the growth of TIP. Increasing its involvement in Syria via military-to-military cooperation can also be seen in the wider context of a PLA keen to develop its overseas experience, in areas from peacekeeping to antipiracy missions to counterterrorism.