Syria postpones election for second time over virus
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Syria postpones election for second time over virus

Vote on parliament pushed from May to July 19 as Assad warns of ‘catastrophe’ if war-battered country lifts lockdown measures

In this photo released on April 18, 2020, a Syrian woman walks with her sons wearing masks due to the coronavirus, in Damascus, Syria. (SANA via AP)
In this photo released on April 18, 2020, a Syrian woman walks with her sons wearing masks due to the coronavirus, in Damascus, Syria. (SANA via AP)

Syria postponed a parliamentary election for a second time Thursday as part of measures to protect the war-battered country from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Syrian government has recorded 44 cases, including three deaths in areas under its control, while the Kurdish administration in northeastern Syria has reported three cases, including one death.

Human Rights Watch said last week that medical supplies to prevent and treat the new coronavirus are not reaching northeast Syria because of restrictions imposed by the Syrian government and the Kurdish regional government.

The president’s office said on its official social media accounts that the vote will be pushed back to July 19, from the scheduled date of May 20 as “part of preventive measures” to combat the virus.

This photo from the official Facebook page of the Syrian Presidency shows Syrian President Bashar Assad casting his ballot in the parliamentary elections, as his wife Asma, left, stands next to him, in Damascus, Syria, April 13, 2016. (Syrian Presidency via AP, file)

The polls, to be held across government-run areas, are the third since the start nine years ago of a conflict that has killed at least 384,000 people.

They were initially supposed to happen on April 13 before the government in March enforced a lockdown to slow the spread of the virus.

President Bashar Assad warned Monday of a “catastrophe” if the easing of lockdown measures in the war-battered country is mishandled.

A night-time curfew is still in force and travel is prohibited between provinces. But the government last week started to gradually lift restrictions by allowing markets and businesses to reopen during the day. This week, it said Friday sermons would resume in mosques.

With millions of people displaced in crowded conditions and without adequate sanitation, United Nations humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock recently told the UN Security Council, the country can’t be expected “to cope with a crisis that is challenging even the wealthiest nations.”

After holding barely a fifth of the country five years ago, Russian intervention has helped the regime reclaim control over more than 70 percent of the national territory.

Over nine years of war more than 380,000 people have died, dozens of towns and cities have been razed to the ground and half of the country’s entire population has been displaced.

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