UN fights to reach Palestinians in Syria while Assad calls for fight against Saudi ideology
The United Nations called on the Syrian army and rebel fighters to allow urgent aid to reach a sieged community of Palestinians near Damascus who are dying from starvations while Syrian president Bashar Al Assad called for a "battle" against Saudi ideology, according to the Daily Star, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.
Reports released Monday expose that approximately 15 Palestinians have died from malnutrition and starvation in the Yarmouk area outside of Damascus. The UN has been barred from delivering aid to the sieged community since September. At least ten people have died since this last UN delivery. The area has been under siege since late 2012 and virtually all aid efforts have been minimal since.
“The situation has progressively deteriorated for some 20,000 Palestinians trapped inside Yarmouk. The use of food as a tool of war is not only abhorrent, but is also a violation of international law. ... It’s important to remember that the use of this war tactic hurts those who are most vulnerable: children, the elderly and the sick. This only further emphasizes the criminality and evil of the Assad regime," said one opposition activist to Reuters.
The community is also suffering from medicinal shortages, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Before the war, more than 160,000 people lived in Yarmouk, almost all of whom were Palestinians who fled to Syria after the establishment of Israel in 1948 drove them from their homes in Palestine. Today, the number is down to less than 20,000.
While the UN fights to reach Syria's Palestinians, President Assad called for a "battle against Wahhabism," Saudi Arabia's political and religious ideology.
According to Syria's state news agency SANA, "President Assad said that extremist and Wahhabi thought distort the real Islam, which is tolerant. He underlined the role of men of religion in fighting against Wahhabi thought, which is foreign to our societies."
Assad's comments follow Saudi King Abduallah's accusation this weekend that the Syrian president is "destroying his country" and is "attracting Islamic extremists to Syria."
Saudi Arabia has been a staunch supporter of Syria's rebels since the start of the country's civil war. Assad and his regime often accuse KSA of funding "terrorists" seeking to destroy Syria.
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