"Plenty of food lines the shelves in Abd al-Razzak's warehouse, but only for those who can afford the sky-high prices needed to cover the bribes it took to transport it there.
"There's a powdered milk factory in Latakia, but there are 13 security checkpoints to go through," al-Razzak explained, sitting in the darkened warehouse in this forlorn northwestern town that has no electricity, no running water and trash pickup only when gas can be found for the trucks. "We have to pay a bribe at each checkpoint."
...The situation in Sarmada, which is controlled by the rebel Free Syrian Army, has been alleviated somewhat by its proximity to Turkey, barely a mile away. At the border between the two countries, trucks filled with food purchased by Sarmada's merchants line up to cross into Syria amid beckoning calls from smugglers offering travelers an alternative route through the mountains. Just 10 miles south of Sarmada, according to al-Razzak, grocery shelves are bare, but few people have the gasoline to drive that far, even for food.
...Al-Razzak mixes flour from Turkey with Syrian flour to make bread with a taste and texture Syrians might recognize. He said he is still able to get food from across Syria, often from factories that are continuing production in the owners' homes. His shelves hold marmalade from the city of Idlib, mayonnaise from Aleppo, canned meat from Damascus.
Because his transportation costs have gone up 16-fold, he now must charge $1 for a sack of flour he used to sell for 15 cents.
Many Syrians can't afford his wares at any price..."