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Aid Convoys Set off for Besieged Syrian Towns, Villages | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A convoy of UN and Red Cross vehicles left Damascus for Madaya on Monday

A convoy of UN and Red Cross vehicles left Damascus for Madaya on Monday

A convoy of UN and Red Cross vehicles left Damascus for Madaya on Monday

Aid convoys headed, on Monday, for a besieged Syrian town where thousands of people, including women and children, have been trapped for six months by a government blockade and have received no aid since October. The United Nations has reported people dying of starvation.

After an agreement between the warring sides, trucks set off for Madaya, near the Lebanese border, and two villages in the northwest of the country on Monday, the Red Cross said, as part of.

Trucks were to simultaneously enter rebel-held Madaya, where aid agencies have warned of widespread starvation, and al Foua and Kefraya in Idlib province, which are encircled by insurgents.

The siege on Madaya has become a focal issue for Syrian opposition leaders who told U.N. envoy, Staffan de Mistura, last week they will not take part in talks with the government until it and other sieges are lifted.

Vehicles from the International Committee of the Red Cross were on their way to Madaya from Damascus, and to al Foua and Kefraya, the International Committee of the Red Cross’s Syria Twitter account said.

Dozens more ICRC-marked trucks were also preparing to head for Madaya from Damascus, a witness reported to Reuters. Vehicles heading for al Foua and Kefraya, nearly 300 km away, had departed earlier.

The United Nations said on Thursday the Syrian government had agreed to allow access to Madaya, where the world body says there have been credible reports of people dying of starvation.

During the five-year-old war that has killed 250,000 people so far, both government forces and rebels have frequently resorted to blockades. Government forces have besieged rebel-held areas near Damascus for several years and more recently rebel groups have blockaded loyalist areas including al Foua and Kefraya.

The areas included in the latest agreement were all part of a local ceasefire deal agreed in September, but implementation has been faltering.

The last aid delivery to Madaya, which took place in October, was synchronised with a similar delivery to the two villages.