BEIRUT, LEBANON (1:00 P.M.) – An official at Iran’s Ministry of Agriculture said they might use the army to help combat the locusts that invade the southern part of the country and threaten to destroy crops worth more than $7 billion.

“The Desert Locust attacked more than 200,000 hectares of orchards and farmlands in seven of the 31 provinces in the country,” the semi-official Iranian Labor News Agency reported, quoting Mohammad Reza Mir, an official at the Ministry of Agriculture.

Mir said that the affected areas, which extends from Iran’s borders with Pakistan and Iraq, will likely increase soon and reach one million hectares.

“The army has promised to help in the war against the Desert Locust, including providing vehicles that are used in difficult terrain for use in hard-to-reach areas,” the official said.

He added that “the army last year provided individuals and vehicles, and this was a major contribution,” stressing that operations against locust swarms have so far prevented “any damage”, but he did not provide details.

The locust infestation, which is the worst of its kind in decades, exacerbates the problems facing Iran, which has already been subjected to harsh sanctions by the U.S.

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