As the coronavirus outbreak spreads through the Middle East, areas of eastern Syria have begun reporting multiple cases of COVID 19 among Iranian and Iraqi nationals serving in Iranian-backed militias in the area.
In Deir Ezzor, a region of eastern Syria near the Iraqi border, six infections were reported at one of the hospitals in Al-Mayadeen, according to Deir Ezzor 24, a local news source. Four of those infected were Iraqi. The other two were Iranian.
On Friday, Abeer Mohammed Al-Salem, a woman from Deir Ezzor, died due to COVID 19, according to Deir Ezzor 24. The news source confirmed that Iranian militia members have died due to the virus as well.
The Assad regime has not officially reported any cases of the coronavirus.
Iranian-backed militias and the IRGC operate bases in the Deir Ezzor area, including the large Imam Ali military base, located near a strategic border crossing between Iraq and Syria.
While Iran is one of the countries being hit the hardest by the outbreak, movement in the Islamic Republic and between Iran and Syria remains largely open, with fears that the virus may be widespread in the Deir Ezzor area. Iranian militia members entering the area are reportedly not being tested before entry.
At least 1,300 Iranians have died due to the coronavirus outbreak and at least 32,000 Iranians have been admitted to hospitals due to the virus as of Monday, according to Radio Farda. These numbers are based largely on clinical evidence, including symptoms, rather than on final confirmation by coronavirus tests and the number of deaths due to the virus could be over 2,000 according to some Iranian health officials. The official numbers from Iran stand at 853 dead and 14,991 infected as of Sunday. Iranian officials have been accused of under-reporting the number of infections and deaths since the outbreak began.
Sources in the area told Deir Ezzor 24 that a number of leaders and officers in Assad’s forces in Deir Ezzor have ordered their soldiers to not shake hands or mingle with any member of the IRGC and to avoid entering their headquarters.
On Monday, over 300 families crossed from areas on the western side of the Euphrates River controlled by the Assad regime and Iranian and Russian forces to areas on the eastern side of the Euphrates River controlled by the international coalition and the SDF without being tested for coronavirus infections. Crossings over the river remain open, and there are not sufficient medical services to deal with a potential outbreak in the area.
Source » jpost