In Damascus, rumors circulated that the epidemic stemmed from a virus
introduced by Israel or another enemy of the Assad regime. But physicians
who treated the soldiers were quoted as saying that the diarrhea was the
result of food and water contamination linked to a heat wave that struck
The opposition Web site Nida Syria reported that new recruits were
hardest hit by the spread of diarrhea and related digestive disorders, Middle East Newsline reported.
Nida quoted soldiers as saying that their rations were inadequate for
the brutal summer training. One recruit said breakfast for eight soldiers
consisted of eight olives, four loaves of bread and 200 grams of jam.
An opposition leader, however, did not rule out that the epidemic was
the work of a hostile intelligence agency. Farid Ghadry, president of the
Reform Party of Syria, said Syria's enemies have multiplied since 2003.
"Any country could have been involved, including European countries who
have paid a dear price politically for engaging with Assad with no results
to show for," Ghadry said.
"The military hospitals have been receiving hundreds of cases of
soldiers being treated for food poisoning," an opposition source said.
quoted soldiers as saying that the epidemic stemmed from the harsh
conditions in training, including a shortage of food and water.