Syria's health minister said on Thursday it had received COVID-19 vaccination doses from a "friendly country" days after reports had emerged that Israel purchased vaccines from Russia as part of a prisoner swap deal.
Hassan Ghabash told state news agency SANA healthcare workers would start receiving inoculations next week. He did not specify which country provided the vaccines or how many doses had arrived.
Media reports last week said that Israel agreed to fund the purchase of Russian vaccines for Syria, its longtime enemy, in order to secure the release of an Israeli woman who had been held there after voluntarily crossing the border.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office has declined to comment on those reports. It also declined comment on reports Syria had received doses from a "friendly" country.
RDIF, the Russian sovereign wealth fund responsible for marketing Russia's Sputnik V vaccine abroad, declined to comment.
Health officials had said Syria was engaged with Russia and China on vaccines but no bilateral deals have been announced yet.
China said earlier this month it would send 150,000 doses of vaccine to Syria as aid but a source told Reuters on Thursday those had not been delivered yet.