Blockade eased on sieged Syrian town, MP killed by jihadists
Syrian government and rebel forces reached a deal Sunday to ease a blockade on a rebel-held town of Qudsaya near the capital, according to the Associated Press. Agence France-Presse also reported Sunday that a Syrian MP was kidnapped by opposition jihadist fighters and executed.
The Qudsaya Media Team, an activist group with sources based in the town, confirmed the truce, but gave few additional details in their statement. The team has previously released information about local markets running out of food and starvation in the town; they have also served as one of the main voices advocating for the end of the siege. The ease in the blockade has allowed food to reach civilians in the town for the first time in weeks.
In related news, a Syrian parliamentary source, speaking on the condition of anonymity told AFP that Mujhem al-Sahu, a Syrian MP representing the Deir al-Zor province had been executed. However, the source did not give further information regarding what party was responsible for the death.
The blockade easing and the MP execution announcements coincide with the second day of talks in Istanbul between Syrian opposition groups who are discussing whether they will attend a proposed peace conference in Geneva that US and Russia are hoping to host before the end of the year. It is not clear if the decision to ease the blockade is linked to the talks, but the Western-backed Syrian opposition National Coalition has called for "goodwill measures from the Assad government, including lifting sieges on rebel-held areas."
Syrian regime forces have used blockade tactics as a way to "starve" rebel forces out from their strongholds. However, the most affected are often the poor, elderly, ill and children who have suffered the most from the food deprivation tactics.
Syrian mediators have attempted to ease the blockades as well, particularly in recent weeks due to heightened international attention to the humanitarian violations that such sieges are causing.
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