Syria reports largest single day jump in coronavirus cases

War-torn Syria has limited coronavirus testing capabilities and a heavily damaged health system. Above, residents shop for clothes at a flea market in Damascus on May 17, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 23 May 2020

Syria reports largest single day jump in coronavirus cases

  • Syrian health ministry: 11 people tested positive upon their return from Kuwait

DAMASCUS: The Syrian government has announced the largest single day jump of recorded cases in the country, where so far testing has been limited.
The health ministry said Saturday that 11 people tested positive upon their return from Kuwait, and that they were among Syrians repatriated from the Gulf country.
It brings the total recorded infections in Syria to 70 and four deaths. The war-torn nation has limited testing capabilities and a heavily damaged health system.
Two regions in the country’s north with a population of nearly 8 million people are outside of government control, so testing there has also been even more limited.
Health authorities have reported no infections in the rebel-held northwest.
In the northeast, the Kurdish-led government began carrying out its own testing and has so far recorded three infections and one death.


‘Provocative’ Erdogan to drill for oil off Libya

Updated 31 May 2020

‘Provocative’ Erdogan to drill for oil off Libya

  • Turkey claims an agreement gives it the right to explore for oil and gas in an exclusive economic zone

JEDDAH: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan plans to create a “fait accompli” over rights to natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean by drilling off the coast of Libya, analysts told Arab News on Saturday.

Ankara’s announcement that it intends to activate last year’s maritime borders agreement with the Libyan government in Tripoli has brought simmering tensions to the boil.   

Turkey claims the agreement gives it the right to explore for oil and gas in an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) between its southern coast and Libya’s northeastern coast. However, Greece, Cyprus and the EU say the deal is illegal. Turkey may also face EU sanctions over drilling in Cypriot territorial waters.

Ankara has not said exactly where it will drill, but experts told Arab News they expect exploration activities to begin off Tripoli in the short term, and then near to the coastal city of Sirte.

“From a tactical point of view, Turkey may test the scenario of a crisis with Athens where escalation takes place and then, in the context of de-escalation, the two countries would have to discuss and negotiate their positions,” said Zenonas Tziarras, a researcher at PRIO Cyprus Centre.

Mona Sukkarieh, a political risk consultant and co-founder of Middle East Strategic Perspectives, said: “If we take Turkish operations off the Cypriot coast as an indicator, operations off the Libyan coast might start off on the less provocative part of the spectrum and grow bolder with time toward the more provocative part of the spectrum.

“The objective is to demonstrate a resolute determination in order to extract concessions or, at the very least, to impose itself as a player to reckon with.”