Wildfires still raging in Syria amid calls for helping affected people

Wildfires continued to rage in central and northwestern Syria on Saturday, so far killing four people and suffocating more than 80 others while leaving massive losses in forests and agricultural areas, according to local media reports and witnesses.

The flames continued to devour massive forests and agricultural areas in the countryside of Homs province in central Syria, as well as the countryside regions of Tartous and Latakia provinces in northwestern Syria.

Fire crews have managed to put out some fires but the blazes reached new villages in the countryside of Latakia and Tartous, forcing entire families out of their homes.

Pro-government Sham FM radio said two Syrian soldiers suffered suffocation as they were helping firefighters to put out the flames in Latakia countryside. The soldiers were taken to a hospital and their condition is stable.

Health Minister Hasan Ghbash told al-Watan online newspaper that four people were killed in Tartous and Latakia and 87 others suffered suffocation in both provinces.

Prime Minister Hussain Arnous was cited by state news agency SANA as stressing the need to provide support to the families that were forced to flee their homes as a result of the fires.

The prime minister also ordered the formation of committees to start assessing the damage to determine the appropriate means of intervention.

Arnous also ordered the opening of university dorms in Latakia to accommodate the displaced people.

Meanwhile, the al-Watan online newspaper cited lawmakers as saying that the fires could be the result of a “terrorist act.”

The new fires come a month after wildfires gutted 7,000 dunams (7 square km) in the countryside of the Masyaf area in Hama province in central Syria.