Israel has agreed to purchase hundreds of thousands of doses of Russian-made COVID-19 vaccine for Syria under the recent prisoners swap deal, Haaretz reported on February 20 citing foreign reports.
The deal, which was brokered by Russia earlier this week, saw Syria releasing a young Israeli woman who was arrested by after entering the country under unknown circumstances a few weeks ago
In return, Israel released Syrian anti-occupation activists Nihal Almukt along with two shepherds from al-Quneitra. The deal was also supposed to include Dhiab Qahmuz, a Hezbollah collaborator. However, he rejected exile to Syria.
According to Haaretz, the deal included a secret term which forced Israel to finance a Sputnik-V vaccine deal for Syria. Israeli’s Walla News reported that Tel Aviv had paid $1.2 million for the Russian vaccine.
While Russia is yet to comment on the Israeli reports, Syria was quick to deny these claims. In a statement released by the Syrian Arab News Agency, a Syrian source said that these claims are meant to “defame” the deal.
“The fabricated information about a secret term in the exchange process, related to getting coronavirus vaccines from the Israeli occupation authorities, aim to defame Syria and distort the patriotic and humanitarian side of the process,” the source said.
Syria has been witnessing a widespread of coronavirus, with more than 15,000 recoded cases and nearly 1,000 deaths. Despite international support, the country has been struggling to kick start vaccination due to its very limited financial resources.
At the same time, the claims regarding an Israeli-financed vaccine deal may be a propaganda stunt meant to promote “normalization” between Tel Aviv and Damascus in order to distort the last’s relations with Iran.
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