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Assad Exploiting COVID-19 Prevention Measures to Consolidate Grip on Syria, Observers Say

AMMAN  - Observers say the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is using the coronavirus crisis to exploit prevention measures to consolidate its control. Syria’s health ministry has so far reported 59 cases of COVID-19, with three deaths, accounting only for people in areas under Assad’s control. But Western intelligence officials believe the official tally is far too low. Concerns are growing that the pandemic could devastate crowded displacement camps and conflict-ridden regions in Syria’s northwest and northeast.

Sandy Alkoutami and Khulood Fahim, junior fellows at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, are tracking the Assad government’s response to COVID-19. From what they have seen, they say the coronavirus may be killing Syrians, but it seems to have boosted the government’s control by creating political openings for Bashar al-Assad. Sandy Alkoutami tells VOA that the Syrian regime has practiced misinformation and intimidation over COVID-19 from the start.

"It sought to control and severely limit the amount of information about the virus in the country, the reporting, and the number of cases confirmed," said Alkoutami. "Even with the increase of cases from Iran, which has a very close relationship with Syrians in the country as well as the regime, the Assad regime continued to deny any cases. It threatened hospitals and doctors that cited coronavirus cases. It deployed members of the secret police in hospitals across regime-held territories to control and oversee the narratives of coronavirus discussions and cases across hospitals."

Aliqismet BADALOV,
“Khalq qazeti”

19 2020 16:56 -
2 July 2020 | 15:33
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