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For 2nd time, Syrian elections delayed over coronavirus

May 7, 2020 GMT
FILE - In this file photo released Monday Nov. 9, 2019 by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks in Damascus, Syria. The global chemical weapons watchdog issued a report Wednesday 'April 8, 2020, blaming the Syrian air force for a series of chemical attacks using sarin and chlorine in late March 2017 and OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias said it is now up to the organization, “the United Nations Secretary-General, and the international community as a whole to take any further action they deem appropriate and necessary.”(SANA FILE via AP)
FILE - In this file photo released Monday Nov. 9, 2019 by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad speaks in Damascus, Syria. The global chemical weapons watchdog issued a report Wednesday 'April 8, 2020, blaming the Syrian air force for a series of chemical attacks using sarin and chlorine in late March 2017 and OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias said it is now up to the organization, “the United Nations Secretary-General, and the international community as a whole to take any further action they deem appropriate and necessary.”(SANA FILE via AP)

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syria’s President Bashar Assad issued a decree Thursday postponing the country’s parliamentary elections until July — the second such delay in light of restrictions in place to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

The elections were initially scheduled for April 13, then in March, a presidential decree delayed them until May 20. The latest decree pushes the new date to July 19, only saying it is part of the government’s “preventive measures to combat coronavirus.”

Syria has recorded only 45 cases of infections and three deaths because of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

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The Syrian government has began gradually easing restrictions imposed since mid-March to fight the virus, but schools and universities remain closed and a nighttime curfew is in place.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Thursday that the United Nations has “assessed the needs and identified $385 million in additional requirements for 2020 to address COVID-19 across Syria.”

Syria has already elected two parliaments since the start of the 2011 uprising, which plunged the country into a civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions. The last parliament was elected in April 2016, when large parts of Syria were outside of government control and people there did not take part in the polling.