In Deir al-Zor, a rebel commander flush with cash was swapping his dollars for Syrian pounds to pay fighters battling president Assad’s forces.
Money changers said influx of foreign currency earlier this month helped push the pound's black market rate in the impoverished town up by at least 10%.
Hundreds of kilometres away in Damascus, panicked Syrians bracing for more violence sold pounds for dollars, driving the pound, which has lost half its value since the anti-Assad uprising erupted in March last year, the other way.
Damascus-based currency dealer Abdullah Abu Saloum said the rebel fighters’ cash was one of anomalies affecting Syria’s foreign exchange market.
“There was a large quantity of dollars that were offered for sale at an attractive price,” he said, adding ruefully that he was not able to capitalise on the opportunity because the ongoing violence, which has killed more than 40,000 people, prevented him transferring pounds from Damascus to Deir al-Zor.