'Unprecedented' Mideast Sandstorm Kills Six in Syria, Grounds Assad's Air Force

Government forces call off air strikes against rebel positions north of the central Hama province due to reduced visibility.

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Sand storm hits Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon. September 7, 2015.
Sand storm hits Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon. September 7, 2015.Credit: AFP

Israelis suffering from Tuesday's severe and unseasonal sandstorm were in good company.

In Lebanon, two people were said to have died from the effects of the blanket of yellow dust and hundreds were hospitalized. Six were reportedly killed in Syria, including two children. The storm also grounded the air force of the Assad regime.

The meteorological department at Beirut's Rafik Hariri International Airport described the storm as being "unprecedented" in Lebanon's modern history, according to Al-Jazeera.

The Lebanese health ministry reported that two women had died and over 750 had been hospitalized with breathing problems or related issues. People in Beirut, especially those with health issues, were advised to stay indoors while many of those who ventured onto the streets wore surgical masks.

Visibility in the Lebanese capital was significantly reduced and Beirut's Traffic Management Centre advised drivers to be cautious in order to avoid accidents.

Lebanese authorities warned residents against burning trash that has piled up on Beirut streets this summer, sparking a political crisis and daily protests.

Damascus, the capital of Syria, was also blanketed by dust, as was the city of Homs. Adeeb Mahmoud, the head of a major hospital in the city, said over 1,200 people, including 100 children, had been treated for breathing problems since the night before.

Reduced visibility forced the government to call off its air strikes against rebel positions north of the central province of Hama, according to local media.

Jordan and Egypt were also affected by the sandstorm.

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