According to French newspaper Le Monde, Lafarge entered into deals with armed groups in Syria, including the Islamic State, to protect its staff and business interests in the country. Lafarge is yet to respond to queries from Agence France-Presse (AFP), saying only that "Lafarge's absolute priority has always been ensuring the safety and security of its staff."
The Jalabiya cement works, situated 150km northeast of Aleppo, purchased by Lafarge in 2007 is at the centre of the ‘deals’ alleged by Le Monde. The works were put into operation in 2011. ”Until 2013 production kept up despite the growing instability in the region due to the civil war which began in 2011," Le Monde wrote. In 2013 the Islamic State began taking control of the towns and roads surrounding the factory.
The French news source reported letters had been sent by Lafarge managers in Syria regarding arrangement made with the armed group to continue production at the Jalabiya works until 19 September 2014. On this date IS took over the site and Lafarge halted all activity. The newspaper also alleges that Lafarge bought licences from and paid taxes to IS middle-men and oil traders in order to keep making cement.
Lafarge confirmed to AFP that is had owned the Jalabiyeh works between 2010 and 2014, but did not directly address any allegations made. The company has stated that, “when fighting came closer to the factory, Lafarge's absolute priority was ensuring the safety and security of its staff while the closure of the factory was being studied”.