This report may be based on a questionable translation, come from a suspect source and remain rather vague, but never mind - it has a rather strong biblical resonance:
According to the Syrian opposition in exile, the Syrian president, who is visiting Latin America, has ordered the shutdown of all Syrian
military exercises due to a plague that currently affects a large number of military, especially conscripts doing their training. Drinking water and food in the bases and the current heat wave are the cause of the epidemic.
Touched by a terrible drought, this epidemic (which reminds us of the Middle Ages) could cause extensive damage to elements of the Syrian
army in the coming weeks. Military sources have completely rejected the possibility of outside intervention that could be causing the epidemic.
Syria is currently facing the worst drought in 40 years. Hundreds of thousands of people are experiencing food shortages; peasants have been decimated, and many people are fleeing the country. Already, nearly 60 000 small livestock owners have lost all their animals, and 50 000 others have lost 50-60 percent of their cattle.
If the early symptoms of plague have occurred in the military (the Syrian army has 215 000 men, plus 300 000 reservists), it is probable that the soldiers will spread the disease, especially with the approach of Ramadan [11 Aug-9 Sep 2010] when a great number of soldiers return to their villages.
The last plague epidemic in Europe was in 1910.
Probably just food poisoning.....