A Black Market Is on the Rise Outside Syria's Bakeries

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"Sometimes I wait for two hours and more to buy bread at the set price of 15 Syrian pounds," says Oum Hameed, a civil servant from Damascus. "I have no choice, because I can't afford to buy from the brokers."

Jamal Shu'aib, Deputy Minister of Interior Commerce in Syria, maintains that the responsibility of the ministry is limited to the physical production and sale of bread, and that policing the bread market is the responsibility of provincial governments.

"We have taken all measures to sell bread at its pre-set prices, and we have also set the maximum amount of bread to be sold to each individual. We are ready to receive and immediately resolve any complaint in this regard," he says. "Bread is available and citizens do not have to buy it from brokers."

Meanwhile, the high prices of a once-ubiquitous dietary staple are taking their toll. Many residents say that the price of bread, once the cheapest, most filling item on their dinner tables, is draining what remains of their income.

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