Roughly 30,000 residents of a Syrian town a few dozen miles from the capital, Damascus, say they are trapped and dying of starvation as a result of a monthslong siege by forces loyal to president Bashar Assad.

“I’ve personally seen people slaughtering cats to eat them, and even the trees have been stripped of leaves now,” said one man.

The Guardian reports:

Families are eating leaves, grasses and water flavoured with spices in the town of Madaya, where rice is sold by the gram because a kilogram costs as much as $250 (£170). Some have killed and eaten their pets.

“People are dying in slow motion,” said Louay, a social worker from the town told the Guardian in a phone interview, his voice weakened by months of abject hunger. “We had some flowers growing in pots at home. Yesterday, we picked the petals and ate them, but they were bitter, awful.” […]

[…] activists inside the town also shared pictures of starving children, one being pushed in a buggy far too small for him because he is too weak to walk.

Others who can still move around, and should normally be in school, are risking their lives trying to collect plants in minefields around the town’s outskirts, and several have lost limbs, residents said. […]

“Whether you are a man, woman, child, whether you’re 70 or 20 years old, you will have lost about 15kg of your weight,” said Ebrahem Abbass, a defector who had served as a sergeant in the Syrian army. “You don’t see a child whose eyes aren’t sunken and staring from hunger.”

Up to 30,000 people have been trapped in Madaya since July, under a tight siege by pro-government forces. They say they are being treated as pawns in a complicated power play, punished for the suffering of two villages hundreds of miles away at the hand of anti-government troops.

Read more and view photos of the hunger here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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