After months of regime blockade, some Moadamiya civilians permitted to leave
October 29, 2013
October 29, 2013
By Syria Direct news staff
AMMAN: The Syrian regime allowed Red Crescent workers to supervise the evacuation of an estimated 2,000 civilians from the “starving suburb” of Moadamiyet a-Sham as the opposition expressed concern about where they would go.
“Evacuated civilians must not face interrogation and detention, as other Moadamiyet civilians did during a previous evacuation,” the Syrian Coalition, the Istanbul-based opposition in exile said in a statement on Tuesday.
“As of now, we have no guarantees,” says Qusai Zakariya from inside Moadamiyet, a town once known for its vast olive groves. The evacuation is the third over the past month, with nearly 12,000 citizens still inside. It was not immediately clear where the town’s citizens would go after leaving.
Citizens, including an old woman with a cane leaning on a young man, trickle out of Moadamiyet on Tuesday. Video courtesy of Markez Moadamiyet a-Sham.
“It is ironic that we were forced to deliver our families to the Syrian government just to feed them,” said Zakariya, a spokesman for the Moadamiyet Media Center. Moadamiyet, a rebel-controlled town, has been blocked from all sides by the regime for more than 300 days in an attempt to conquer the southwest Damascus suburb, which was also targeted by chemical weapons on August 21st.
The Red Crescent has not yet commented on the evacuation, but Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi met with the head of the organization in Damascus on Tuesday and commented afterwards that the government “will not allow any Syrian citizen to be in need of food or medicine.” Al-Halqi did not mention Moadamiyet by name, but said the government would provide logistical and medical support for every Syrian in crisis conditions.
The official account varies with video coming out of Moadamiyet showing citizens foraging for food and eating grass and leaves to survive, a less-than-surprising state of affairs given the regime’s chokehold around the town that has not allowed anything or anyone in or out, with the exception of the three supervised evacuations, since the siege began.
“The people of Moadamiyet face starvation and death as Assad’s forces deny these civilians access to basic food, water and medicine,” the Coalition said in an appeal for assistance last week. The Coalition published an open letter from what it said was the people of Moadamiyet who called for the establishment of safe corridors for injured people to leave and food to enter.
Even as the evacuation of citizens is underway, Zakariya and other activists report continuous shelling on Moadamiyet. “People have gotten used to routine shelling, day after day,” Zakariya said.
“But hunger is what is keeping people from sleeping.”