Major exercise tests Lebanon’s response to chemical attack

Lebanese security forces take part in a drill, simulating a chemical weapons attack in Kfar Falous on Tuesday. (AFP)
Updated 09 October 2019

Major exercise tests Lebanon’s response to chemical attack

  • More than 200 employees in 80 hospitals were trained, including doctors and nurses, and provided with equipment to prevent contamination

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s military and security forces, medical and relief workers took part in a major exercise to test the country’s ability to respond to a chemical, biological or radiological attack.
The simulated exercise, described as the largest and most comprehensive of its kind ever to take place in the country, was staged in the southern Lebanese town of Kfarfalous, and involved 932 members from the army and other security services, hospitals, civil defense, ambulance, fire, relief agencies and NGOs.
“With the beginning of the Syrian crisis and the rumors of the use of chemical weapons, the Lebanese Ministry of Health in 2012-2013 began intensive training for hospitals on ways to deal with possible chemical injuries,” said Lebanese Health Minister Jamil Jabak.
The exercise was the culmination of months of training conducted under the auspices of the country’s Ministry of Health in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO).
“More than 62 million people in the world have been injured by the use of deadly weapons,” said Iman Shankiti, WHO representative in Lebanon. “The WHO’s work is to carry out activities aimed at preparing for all dangers, and its role is to train teams of health workers in all Lebanese governorates.”
Jabak added: “After Lebanon signed the International Health Regulations for 2010, the Ministry of Health, in cooperation with the WHO, began work on a health plan to combat biological, chemical and radiological threats.

SPEEDREAD

• The simulated exercise, described as the largest and most comprehensive of its kind ever to take place in the country, was staged in the southern Lebanese town of Kfarfalous.

• The exercise involved 932 members from the army and other security services, hospitals, civil defense, ambulance, fire, relief agencies and NGOs.

“In 2015, the Ministry of Health began to develop a core of medical teams to combat biological and radiological threats in all Lebanese regions, with more than 230 emergency doctors and nurses trained in government and private hospitals, the military health system, civil defense, the Red Cross, and NGOs.
“In February, the ministry continued its training in the south and Nabatieh governorates, with more than 150 people trained. It has concluded with this exercise involving all trained teams, the first of its kind in Lebanon.”
Around 300 civilians participated in the role of casualties from a town hit by a chemical attack. Medics, dressed in protective gear and chemical masks, dealt with the injured according to their severity of their condition.
More than 200 employees in 80 hospitals were trained, including doctors and nurses, and provided with equipment to prevent contamination.
An official in the internal security forces told Arab News: “The security services carry out routine training on how to deal with disasters. These disasters need preparing for and there are no real threats to Lebanon to carry out such exercises.
“The security services in Lebanon are receiving continuous training in this regard in accordance with international police standards.”


Reza Pahlavi, son of Iran’s last shah, says regime is cracking from within

Updated 26 January 2020

Reza Pahlavi, son of Iran’s last shah, says regime is cracking from within

  • ahlavi strongly backed the US drone strike that killed the powerful Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani
  • "How long can it possibly be sustained?”

LONDON: The former crown prince of Iran says the regime is cracking from within under the pressure of a wave of fresh protests.

Reza Pahlavi, the son of the last shah, was just 17 when he fled into exile with his family during the 1979 Islamic revolution that overthrew the monarchy.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, he said the demonstrations, which have included chants for the royal family to return, show that the current regime may be coming to an end.

“The cracking from within of the system is getting more and more obvious,” he said. “When you look at the circumstances in Iran today, put yourselves in the shoes of the worst-off — how long can it possibly be sustained?”

The protests intensified in November after an increase in fuel prices. Vast crowds demonstrated in cities across the country before the regime cut the internet and killed hundreds of people in a brutal crackdown.

Large numbers returned to the streets this month, angered by the shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger jet by the Iranian military, and Tehran’s initial insistence that it was an accident.

“The protests are very pervasive, in many sectors of society,” Pahlavi, 59, said in Washington where he lives. “They are all over the country. And a new development we haven’t seen before: the so-called silent middle class, which until now were not taking positions, are beginning to speak out.

“I’m not saying this is a guaranteed collapse. But the ingredients that get us closer to that point seem to be more prevailing these days than ever before.”

Pahlavi said he no longer has any desire to return to the throne, despite once being a rallying point for opposition groups after his father died in 1980.

However, he said he believed there could be a new Iran after the fall of the clerical regime and that his role could be as a go-between for the Iranian diaspora, foreign governments and opposition groups inside Iran.

“To the extent that there is a name recognition, I can utilise that,” he said. “I have no ambition of any kind of role or function or title. I’d like to be an advocate for the people. I don’t let any of this go to my head, I’ve been around too long for that.”

Pahlavi strongly backed the US drone strike that killed the powerful Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani “as a breakthrough that is positive for the region.”

He also backs the punishing US sanctions introduced when Washington withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal.

He said he hopes one day to be able to return to his homeland.

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