Syrian deal to get food into blockaded town
BEIRUT // Syrian government officials promised to allow food into a rebel-held town near Damascus that has been under military blockade for months, on condition that residents raise the Syrian national flag and rebels hand over heavy weapons, activists said yesterday.
Residents of Moadamiyeh, west of the capital, and rebels in the town agreed to the terms, and residents flew the national flag of red, black and white strips, with two green stars, over buildings, said the spokesman of the local town council.
The raising of the flag was a symbolic victory for the government as it battles rebels who have seized neighbourhoods around the capital.
The secular opposition in the uprising against Syria’s president, Bashar Al Assad, uses a different flag with green, white and black stripes and three red stars.
The timing of the deal may be to bolster Mr Al Assad’s position ahead of internationally-brokered peace talks next month.
Moadamiyeh has been under blockade for months by Syrian forces forbidding the entry of food, fuel and clean water. Activists have warned that malnutrition was rife among its civilians.
The council spokesman said: “Most of the [town’s] leaders are against it, but there are 8,000 hungry people here, and nobody helped us.”
The exiled opposition group, the Syrian Coalition, said the deal demonstrated how Mr Al Assad’s government used “food as a tool of war”.
* Associated Press
Updated: December 26, 2013 04:00 AM