RAMALLAH: A bruising winter storm brought severe weather to the Middle East on Thursday, forcing the closure of roads and schools and blanketing already miserable Syrian refugee camps with snow.The storm, dubbed Alexa, already has pounded much of Lebanon and parts of northern Syria, pushing temperatures below zero and dumping snow and heavy rains.

Footage posted online by activists showed war-battered areas of Syria shrouded in snow, and at least two small children have died from the cold, according to a spokesman for the opposition National Coalition.

The severe weather delayed the start of the first United Nations airlift of aid items from Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region to neighbouring Syria, a spokesman said on Thursday.

Elsewhere, in the occupied West Bank snow fell on Bethlehem’s Manger Square, the historic site of the birth of Jesus Christ. Most West Bank schools were closed but roads were generally passable.

In the Gaza Strip, which has been in the grip of a fuel crisis that has affected hospitals, sanitation services and sewerage, torrential rains filled the streets with floodwater and overflowing sewage, and forced the closure of schools and banks.



(The Gulf Today)