Syrian government quiet amid coronavirus outbreak
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on Tuesday that, despite a lack of statements on the coronavirus by Damascus, there have been cases in at least four Syrian provinces currently under regime control.
Speaking to Kurdistan 24, SOHR director Rami Abdel Rahman claimed there have been at least 62 people infected with the novel coronavirus in the provinces of Damascus, Tartus, Lattakia, and Homs.
The government of Bashar al-Assad has yet to announce any cases on its soil but has suspended flights to neighboring countries.
The Syrian regime has been leading a military operation to retake northwestern parts of its country from opposition groups and Turkey-backed militants. Its actions have led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people as Assad's forces and Russian jets continue to bomb civilians in pursuit of reimposing control over a country wracked by a decade of instability.
Iranian fighters and military advisors are part of the Damascus-led operations, with reports that some of them have become infected with the coronavirus.
Iran has become the epicenter of the virus in the Middle East after continued trade with China—from where the disease surfaced—led to its spread in the country.
So far, Tehran has confirmed over 8,000 cases of the coronavirus and has reported 291 deaths. Among those killed are several senior officials, including ranking members of the military.
The disease, known officially as COVID-19, has struck over 118,000 people worldwide and has killed over 4,000 of them, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
As the number of reported cases grows in Syria, it is unclear how the Syrian government is planning to deal with the virus amid a crumbled national infrastructure and an ongoing humanitarian crisis due to Syrian and Turkish actions.
Editing by John J. Catherine