AMID the ruins of Syria, Mohieddine Manfoush has carved out a kingdom built on cheese. An unremarkable man with 25 cows to his name before the conflict began,
Mr Manfoush now has his own militia, a herd of 1,000 cattle and a company whose dairy products have become ubiquitous in Damascus.
For those with the right connections and an appetite for risk, the war has opened up lucrative sources of revenue.
For Mr Manfoush, his new-found wealth is directly bound to the regime’s preferred tactic of siege warfare. This has proved effective at isolating, containing and strangling rebel redoubts into submission without consuming too much of the regime’s dwindling manpower.
Mr Manfoush’s cash cow has been the siege of Eastern Ghouta, a large rebel-held region east of Damascus.