Rebel inspects aid truck to Shi'ite towns
Rebel inspects aid truck to Shi'ite towns Reuters

Aid convoys arranged by local and international organizations rolled into three besieged towns in Syria Monday, where tens of thousands of people are trapped. The delivery was agreed upon in a deal between the government forces and rebels.

Pawel Krzysiek, the spokesperson for the Red Cross in Syria, told Al Jazeera on Monday afternoon that aid convoys have started to enter the town of Madaya, located west of Damascus and near the Lebanese border, which is under siege by pro-Assad and Hezbollah forces. Other aid convoys have arrived in Foua and Kefraya, two Shi'ite towns besieged by rebels in Idlib province.

Abou Ammar, a media activist in Madaya, told the site over the phone that local aid organizations have been waiting since the early morning for aid to arrive. "We have all been eagerly waiting since 5 a.m.," he said. "We will work with the aid convoys arriving in Madaya and will help distributing aid to residents in town. The trucks will distribute humanitarian aid to storage locations across town and from there they will distribute to residents."

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) have said that at least 28 people, including six babies under one year of age, have died from hunger-related causes in Madaya during the siege.

MSF also said they have identified 250 people with severe acute malnutrition, ten of whom are in immediate need of lifesaving hospitalization.

Five people – a nine-year-old boy and four men older than 45 – died on Sunday of suspected malnutrition, according to medics working with MSF.

The last aid delivery to Madaya, which was delivered in October, was also synchronized with a similar delivery to Foua and Kefraya.

An estimated 42,000 people in Madaya have little or no access to food. In Kefraya and Foua, Nusra Front and other rebel groups have cut off about 12,500 people from access to aid supplies. Two weeks ago, Syrian government forces sealed off the last road to Moadamiyah, a rebel-controlled town on the outskirts of Damascus. Pro-opposition activists estimated that 45,000 civilians are stuck in the area.

In December, the UN reported that the Syrian government and allied militias also placed more than 181,000 people in the areas near Damascus under siege. These areas include Daraya and Ghouta, as well as Zabadani, which is situated near the border with Lebanon. Islamic State (ISIS) has meanwhile imposed a siege on more than 200,000 people in Deir Az Zor in Syria's east.

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