Damascus: At least 34 children have died in rebel-held Syria after being injected with contaminated measles vaccines, the rebels have claimed.
They also warned that the deaths might be caused by saboteurs linked to the Bashar Al- Assad regime, the Guardian reported Wednesday.
The death toll was expected to rise, with many children from eight towns in Idlib province, north-west Syria, being in intensive care till Tuesday night.
The province is being held by moderate rebel groups opposed to both Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and the extremist Islamic State (IS) (also known as ISIS). The area was the subject of a fierce military campaign earlier this year, which saw the rebels regaining control.
Parents, however, blamed opposition health authorities of failing to store the vaccines properly, and of supplying out-of-date medication.
But opposition officials denied accusations of negligence, saying that the vaccines came from Unicef and WHO, via the Turkish government, and that the same batch had successfully vaccinated 60,000 schoolchildren in 30 locations in recent days.
The Syrian civil war has already claimed the lives of over 191,000 Syrians, and created more than three million refugees. The US is currently rallying global support.