International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, www.ICEJUSA.org
Making his way home from a recent Latin American junket, Syrian President Bashar Assad warned in Madrid that the current rift in Israel-Turkey relations means “the prospect of war grows” in the region, but his army may be in no shape to fight. According to Syrian opposition figures in exile, Assad has ordered the shutdown of all Syrian military exercises due to a plague that is currently affecting a large swath of the army, especially conscripts in basic training.
The epidemic is being blamed on poor drinking water and food on Syrian army bases and a current heat wave that has come amid years of drought in the region. The epidemic could cause extensive damage to elements of the 215,000-man standing army in coming weeks, according to the International Society for Infectious Diseases. Hundreds of thousands of people are experiencing food shortages; peasants have been decimated, and many people are fleeing the country. Already, nearly 60,000 small livestock owners have lost all their animals, and 50,000 others have lost 50-60 percent of their cattle. Reports indicate that if the early symptoms of plague have occurred in the military, it is probable that the soldiers will spread the disease when they return to their villages.