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Starved Syrians flee Damascus suburb

Source BBC News@

Woman carries sack of food aid on her head in Ghouta, Damascus. 6 Oct 2013 At least three of Damascus's suburbs have been besieged by government forces for several months

Thousands of Syrian civilians have finally been allowed to leave the besieged Damascus suburb of Muadhamiya.

The BBC's Lyse Doucet, who was at the scene, describes a tide of desperate people leaving the area, which has been closed off since March.

Supplies in Muadhamiya had been running desperately short, and residents had pleaded to be saved from starvation.

The exodus of civilians has been made possible by an apparent relaxation of a blockade by government forces.

The Syrian army had previously said that rebel-held areas of Damascus such as Muadhamiya could surrender or starve.

At least three of Damascus's suburbs - Yarmouk, Eastern Ghouta and Muadhamiya - have been besieged by government forces for several months.

The situation has become so desperate that earlier this month Muslim clerics issued a religious ruling allowing people to eat cats, dogs and donkeys just to survive.

Those animals are usually considered unfit for human consumption in Islam.

Eating grass

For months, the UN and other aid agencies have been calling for urgent help, fearing the worst for the people of Muadhamiya.

"We didn't see a piece of bread for nine months," one woman told the BBC. "We were eating leaves and grass."

"We are all sick," a young girl said as she and her little sister clutched pieces of bread distributed by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society.

Our correspondent says many people were brought out of the area on stretchers, some crying, all of them showing severe strain of a life under siege.

The Minister for Social Affairs, Kinda Al Shamamat, who was overseeing the evacuation, has accused rebel gunmen - whom she describes as terrorists - of infiltrating Muadhamiya.

But rebel fighters - who have stayed behind in the suburb - accuse the government of trying to starve them into submission.

Now that most civilians have fled, the battle will intensify, our correspondent says.

Đăng ký: Tieng Anh Vui

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