Civilians under siege

By
February 19, 2014 17:29

Bashar Assad has resorted to siege tactics because government forces lack the manpower for street battles with rebels.

Residents at the besieged Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp, south of Damascus

Residents at the besieged Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp, south of Damascus. (photo credit:SANA/REUTERS)

“Assad’s forces told us to submit or starve.” This was the desperate message relayed in early February in a Skype call from Qusai Zakarya, a Syrian Palestinian from the besieged Damascus suburb of Moadamiyya. President Bashar Assad’s forces placed Moadamiyya under siege 15 months ago, cutting off its population from outside aid. Now, rebels and activists say they are negotiating the final terms of a truce.

Zakarya, who uses a pseudonym for security reasons, accuses Assad of using starvation as a weapon to force oppositionheld Moadamiyya to submit. The town’s food supplies ran out months ago, and the 8,000 civilians who remain in Moadamiyya are reduced to scavenging for food, eating anything they can find, including grass, Zakarya says.

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