Supporters of the Iran-backed dictator Bashar al-Assad and the terror group Hezbollah have taken to social media to mock residents of the besieged Syrian city of Madaya, who are being starved by the Assad regime and its allies, The Independent reported on Saturday.
The hashtag #متضامن_مع_حصار_مضايا, meaning “solidarity with the siege of Madaya”, has sparked a new wave of outrage over the continuing crisis, with those using it condemned as “sadistic” and “unbelievably disgusting”.
Photos showed people with sumptuous-looking spreads of food including kebabs, grilled prawns, whole fish, chips, salad and mountains of bread.
The trend emerged on Facebook and Twitter on Friday as President Bashar al-Assad gave into international pressure to allow humanitarian aid to enter for the first time since October.
According to the blog Beirut Syndrome, even prominent figures have joined the trend, with Lebanese producer and director Charbel Khalil tweeting a picture of emaciated Somalis to mock the reports of starvation in Madaya.
pic.twitter.com/8Wo7wsQsQ6 لكل المسعورين أو الأغبياء أو الحاقدين، هذه الصورة للسخرية من صور قناة الجزيرة المفبركة، وحاجي هبل.
— Charbel Khalil (@khalil_charbel) January 9, 2016
The social media campaign has evoked outrage, particularly among opponents of the Assad regime.
“We are disgusted,” Dr. Yahya Basha, chairman of the Coalition for a Democratic Syria, told The Tower via e-mail. “A consistent campaign of whitewashing regime crimes has now graduated to mocking its victims. The world knows what is happening in Madaya, but the continued impotence of the international community to respond creates space for conspiracy theorists and provocateurs to muddy the waters.”
Last week, reports surfaced on the severely deteriorating living conditions affecting the roughly 40,000 people who live near Madaya, a predominantly Sunni town near Syria’s border with Lebanon. An ongoing siege perpetrated by the Assad regime and Hezbollah, both of which are backed by Iran, has led to widespread starvation, soaring food prices, and at least 23 deaths in recent weeks. Ten of the fatalities resulted from malnutrition, with the remainder either being killed by sniper fire or land mines while scavenging for food outside the town. At least 25 checkpoints have been erected in the area to prevent residents from leaving.
On Monday, the BBC reported that a United Nations aid convoy was permitted to enter the city. Simultaneously, aid convoys entered two Shiite cities with a combined population of 20,000 people that have been besieged by opposition groups since March. According to the BBC, only 10% of the UN’s aid requests have been granted in the past year.
[Photo: Channel 4 News / YouTube ]