SYRIA: Despite grounded national air travel, civilian flights continue between Damascus and Zalin (Qamishli)

ZALIN (QAMISHLI), Syria – On Thursday, the first flight from Qamishli International Airport to Damascus took off since the start of the curfew in Syria. The flight was carrying the first group of cancer patients (50 patients and 50 escorts) on their way to Damascus for chemo, radiation, and other therapeutic treatment.

The patients were taken by sterile buses to Qamishli International Airport and were screened for elevated temperature. Upon arriving in Damascus, the passengers undergo similar checks before being transferred to hospitals for cancer treatment.

On 29 March, the Syrian Ministry of Health began registering the names of cancer patients wishing to travel to Damascus to complete their treatment.

Also on Thursday, a third civilian flight landed at Qamishli International Airport carrying a number of students from Gozarto (Jazira) Region who were studying at universities in Damascus. The flight also included approximately 100 medical patients also from Gozarto Region. All passengers were received by emergency teams of the Health Directorate of the Democratic Autonomous Administration (DAA) of North and East Syria.

The Health Directorate tested and quarantined all passengers of the flight and the DAA’s Internal Security Forces (ISF) intensified measures to prevent any violations of the quarantine. Two days ago, several passengers bribed Syrian regime officials to release them from the airport without quarantining them.

Families of some students objected to the quarantine of their children, claiming that exceptions had been made and some of the recent arrivals were allowed to leave the airport without being quarantined.