Residents of Damascus, Syria, April 1, 2020 (Louai Beshara/AFP/Getty)
The official Coronavirus toll in regime-held areas of Syria is rising.
The Health Ministry announced four more deaths this weekend, raising the official toll to 13. The Ministry acknowledged another 20 cases on Sunday, taking the total to 358.
Medics, analysts, and residents believe the actual toll is far higher, with the regime facing economic crisis and the movement of Iran-backed foreign militias across Syrian borders.
Opposition-held northwest Syria is almost void of necessary equipment and supplies, with only a single lab for processing of tests. Kurdish authorities in the northeast complain that they have to wait for Damascus laboratories to handle their tests.
The Assad regime introduced a curfew and closed schools, universities, and public spaces in April. However, amid shortages, a collapsing currency, and rampant inflation, it began easing the restrictions in late May.
At the same time, the Cabinet under new Prime Minister Hussein Arnous tipped off its concern about the rising virus with a call for reduced crowding and full commitment to public health regulations.
Islamic State Clashes With Regime Forces
Islamic State fighters have clashed with Assad regime forces in Homs Province in central Syria, with reports of multiple casualties on both sides.
Local sources claimed that 31 ISIS militia were slain, and 20 regime troops killed.
The Islamic State lost its last village in Syria in March 2019, after years of attacks by Russian-enabled pro-Assad units and the US-supported, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.
However, bands of ISIS fighters have continued raids, particularly in the Badia desert in central and eastern Syria.