Hezbollah says it is turning its attention from fighting Israel and the civil war in Syria to deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Lebanon.

The Iranian-backed Hezbollah paramedics and volunteers have been spraying disinfectants on shops and buildings in its stronghold of the southern suburbs of Beirut, according to an AP report published on Wednesday.

The organization has deployed some 24,500 members and volunteers in its campaign to aid the Health Ministry, which has a Hezbollah-appointed minister, in battling the spread of the virus, said Hashem Safieddine, a senior Hezbollah official.

“We are soldiers at the service of the Health Ministry,” Bilal Assaf, an official with Hezbollah’s Civil Defense, told the AP.

So far, there have been 12 deaths and as many as 480 infected. Critics of Hezbollah blame the group for not stopping flights sooner from virus-stricken Iran, which is reportedly the source of the first case in Lebanon when a woman returned from Iran on Feb. 20.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has been giving frequent speeches on TV about the virus.

“We should feel that we are in a battle, and we should fight this battle,” he said in a recent speech, according to the report.

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