Mike Giglio reports from Besaslan: This town on the Turkish-Syrian border is covered in trash. Residents refuse to let any outsiders — even garbagemen — inside. What makes Besaslan more guarded than the other grim towns lining what has become one of the world’s most dangerous borders sits at the end of a winding dirt road: oil.
The oil brings Omar to town weekly, huddling with grease-covered men to negotiate the purchase of faded, 17-gallon drums. A Syrian in his thirties, Omar was once a proud rebel in his country’s civil war. Now he’s a merchant in the trade that bankrolls the extremists who hijacked it: the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. The militants can make more than $1 million a day selling oil from fields captured in eastern Syria. But the way this shadowy trade works on the ground remains largely unknown. [Continue reading…]