The Syrian government promised on Monday to follow through with polio vaccinations for the country’s children after the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed 10 cases last week in the northeast province of Deir al-Zor — an outbreak that the government is blaming on the rebels who have been trying to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad since the Arab Spring began two-and-a-half years ago.

“We want vaccinations to reach every Syrian child wherever they are — either in a conflict zone or an area where the Syrian army is present,” Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said at a televised news conference in Damascus, according to Reuters. “This must reach every Syrian child and we pledge this (will happen), and we will grant every opportunity to humanitarian organizations to reach every Syrian child.”

Mekdad did not, however, mention how exactly the vaccines would be delivered in rebel-occupied territories, seemingly alluding to the rebels being responsible for any failure. Meanwhile, other government officials have blamed the spread of polio on the rebels entering the country from Pakistan.

“The virus originates in Pakistan and has been brought to Syria by the jihadists who come from Pakistan,” Minister of Social Affairs Kindah al-Shammat told the Associated Press. But although Pakistan is among one of three countries (with Afghanistan and Nigeria) where the poliovirus remains endemic, she offered no evidence of the claim.

International health officials have also considered that the virus traveled through Pakistan, but are awaiting a complete genetic sequencing by WHO to determine its origin. The claims could be completely baseless, according to the WHO’s polio eradication spokesman Oliver Rosenbaum, who told Time that one of the adult rebels is the least likely to be a carrier, since the virus typically travels with children who weren’t yet vaccinated.

A total of 22 children were suspected to have the polio infection after the appearance of acute flaccid paralysis, a symptom of infection that includes the rapid onset of weakness to the extremities. The outbreak occurred just as a plan to immunize 1.6 million children against polio, rubella, measles, and mumps throughout all areas of the country was set to begin.

The last time wild poliovirus was reported in Syria was in 1999. Only about 95 percent of children under five years old were vaccinated before the civil war began in 2011 though, leaving many parts of the country left out of the immunization process. “The WHO and the Ministry of Health couldn’t reach the conflict areas, leaving a big hole in the safety net, but they didn’t raise the alarm and they didn’t change their approach,” Dr. Fouad Fouad, a Syrian epidemiologist who teaches at the American University of Beirut, told Time. The connection is obvious when considering the fact that the majority of those 22 children are under two years old.

Polio is a highly infectious disease that infects the nervous system, causing total paralysis in only a few hours. It enters the body through consumption of food or drink contaminated with feces. Children under five are most at risk for infection and initial symptoms usually include fever, fatigue, headache, and vomiting.

With nearly three million children in need of vaccinations throughout Syria, Dr. Fouad says that an international resolution similar to the one issued for chemical-weapons use could be the only way to get vaccinations, and much needed food and aid to rebel-occupied territories. “Syrians are dying of starvation and communicable diseases. If the UN Security Council can issue a resolution on chemical weapons, they should do the same for health.”