Update: Aid convoys could enter Syrian rebel-held town soon

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, January 10, 2016
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A Syrian opposition figure said on Saturday that aid convoys could be allowed into a besieged town north of the capital Damascus on Monday, where people are said to have been starving to death.

The town of Madaya has been under government troops' siege for six months, Muhammad Abu al-Qassem, head of the al-Tadamun Party, told Xinhua by phone.

He said his group's members are ready to enter Madaya to help distribute the aid and foodstuffs to the people.

As many as 40,000 civilians and 200 rebels have been trapped in the rebel-held town of Madaya. The siege aims to push the rebels to ease their siege on and allow aid into two Shiite towns, Kafraya and Foa, in the western countryside of the northwestern province of Idlib.

The entry of convoys to Madaya was conditioned to the rebels' acceptance to allow humanitarian aid into the two besieged towns that are loyal to the government.

Abu al-Qassem said 40 aid trucks will enter Madaya as well as Kafraya and Foa simultaneously on Monday.

Much of Idlib is under the control of the Jaish al-Fateh rebel group, except Kafraya and Foa. Both towns have been suffering from the siege since March, 2015, as well as constant shelling and repeated attacks in which over 600 people have been killed.

In recent weeks, the rebels in the city of Zabadani, which is adjacent to Madaya, reached a deal with the government to evacuate from the city, amid talks in which the rebels in Madaya were to be involved in a similar deal.

Last month, tens of wounded rebels were evacuated amid talks that the government would loosen its imposed siege on Zabadani.

Recently, photos showing famished people from Madaya with extreme sickness were published by the oppositional Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on the Internet.

As a result of the siege, Madaya has been suffering from a severe shortage of medical supplies and food since last August, causing the spread of diseases and hunger, Abu al-Qassem said.

People are being poisoned from eating tree leafs, garbage, and even stray cats and dogs, reports said.

During the past six months, 52 people have died as result of the siege. Reports said some "crisis merchants" are selling basic foodstuff in imaginary prices, such as one kg of white wheat for 155 U.S. dollars and one kg of rice for 120 dollars, Abu al-Qassem revealed. Endit

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