Siege of Syria's Zabadani persists despite swap deal

Deal between government forces and rebels meant to ease blockade of border town fails to alleviate suffering.

    The Syrian town of Zabadani near the Lebanese border continues to suffer under siege despite a deal between pro-government forces and rebels that was meant to ease the blockade.

    Dozens of wounded rebel fighters and their families were allowed to leave the town in the deal brokered by Iran and Turkey last month.

    In exchange, pro-government forces and Lebanese Shia Hezbollah fighters were allowed safe passage back from rebel-dominated areas in northern Syria.

    Syrian rebels surrender in border town

    While rebel fighters were allowed to go to Turkey, those left behind were supposed to get humanitarian aid.

    Residents of Zabadani say the Syrian government's blockade continues and supplies are dwindling.

    "We've only got water. How come there isn't food?" said one mother in the town.

    "In the end we were eating starch and even that is non-existent ... everything has gone."

    Shelves inside the town's shops are empty and the streets are deserted.

    Medical staff are struggling to help the sick as the number of people ill with hunger-related issues rises.

    "We've dealt with 150 cases of unconsciousness and two deaths. People were unconscious because of malnutrition ... they hadn't been getting food for a number of days," said one doctor.

    After months of deprivation as fighting raged, residents of Zabadani had hoped they would get access to supplies they desperately needed.

    Many are now wondering whether help will ever arrive.

    Zabadani was the focus of intense fighting between rebels and the Syrian government [EPA]

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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