DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — A Syrian government minister says foreign fighters who came to the country to wage jihad are responsible for the outbreak of polio in the rebel-controlled north.
Minister of Social Affairs Kindah al-Shammat told The Associated Press on Sunday that jihadis from Pakistan "brought the virus" with them. She offered no evidence and did not elaborate on the claim. Pakistan is one of three countries where polio remains endemic.
Syrian government have blamed terrorists and Islamic militants for the civil war that has killed more than 100,000 people and destroyed a country that once offered subsidized health care, including immunizations.
Last week, the United Nations health agency confirmed 10 polio cases in northeast Syria. The cases are among babies and toddlers under 2, who the U.N. said were "under-immunized."