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Starving Syrians in besieged town of Madaya are reduced to eating cats and dogs


The people of Madaya outside Damascus – besieged by regime forces and Hizbollah since July – are surviving on boiled leaves and street animals

Thousands of Syrian families are starving to death as Bashar al-Assad’s regime imposes a medieval siege on two mountain towns, despite a UN-brokered ceasefire designed to allow the entry of aid.

Doctors in Madaya and Zabadani, fewer than 25 miles from Mr Assad’s presidential palace, recorded 31 cases of death by starvation last month after regime forces and Hizbollah sealed off the towns and mined the surrounding area.

In Madaya, 40,000 civilians have been reduced to eating boiled leaves with leftovers from rubbish bins. In an interview with The Telegraph, the mother of a two-year-old child broke down in tears as she described the fight to keep her child strong enough to survive.

“There is nothing. Nothing. She’s so thin I see her muscles straining through her skin when she cries, and I cannot help. I am her mother and I cannot help,” she said, the infant’s screams ringing out in the background.

‘People here have eaten cats, they have eaten dogs. But please do not judge them – this is what desperation looks like’

The United Nations said on Thursday that Mr Assad’s regime had agreed to allow aid deliveries into three besieged towns, including Madaya. But deliveries were not expected to begin before the weekend and Save the Children said that more people would die in the coming days if food and medicine did not reach the area immediately.

As news of the town’s suffering filtered out on Thursday, several British MPs were understood to be considering making a public call for the RAF, which is launching air strikes against Isil in Syria, to drop aid into Madaya.

Of the 31 people who died of starvation last month, three were infants under the age of one. In photographs from Madaya, the weakness and frailty of many residents is obvious. Some pictures show emaciated corpses.

Abdullah, another local resident, said that he was surviving on strawberry leaves and had not eaten a full meal in three months. “When I saw this, I felt I was in Africa. We’ve had many wars in the Middle East, yes, too many wars. But we’ve never had starvation,” he said.

Speaking from a local field hospital, a doctor described the town’s plight as a “modern-day nightmare”. He said that 230 patients had been treated for fainting from hunger on Thursday alone.

Madaya and Zabadani are the last remaining opposition enclaves along the Lebanese border and observers describe the siege as a common regime tactic.

“We’ve seen it time and time again. The regime uses its military force to starve the people into submission and


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