A deadly sandstorm is sweeping across the Middle East

A Lebanese woman covers her face with a tissue as she walks amid the dust in downtown Beirut during a sandstorm blowing over the Lebanese capital on September 8, 2015.
Joseph Eid

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Large parts of Lebanon and Syria were shrouded by an “unprecedented” sandstorm on Tuesday as a brownish cloud settled over the region.

At least two people are thought to have died in Lebanon as a result of the storm, and as many as 750 people have suffered from difficulties with breathing, according to the country’s health ministry. Local press reported as many as five may have died. 

Residents woke up to sandy windows and dust-caked cars on Tuesday morning as the storm that originated in Iraq made its way west. The Red Cross warned people with asthma to stay indoors. Many people wore masks as they went around town.

Lebanon’s meteorological department described the storm as being "unprecedented" in Lebanon's modern history, according to Al Jazeera. The same storm caused problems in Israel, Jordan, Iraq and Cyprus. 

In Syria, the storm was reported to have stalled government airstrikes on rebel areas in the north of the country due to poor visibility.