June 14 – 2016 – by Scott Lucas – eaworldview – Kurds Refuse Opposition Request for Joint Defense in Northwest Syria
The Assad regime is continuing the barrel bombing of Darayya, 12 km (7.5 miles) southwest of Syria’s capital Damascus, four days after a token delivery of aid to the besieged town.Early Friday, the regime countered international demands for an end to sieges by allowing a nine-truck convoy with food, the first such assistance since November 2012. About 480 parcels were handed out, sufficient to feed 2,400 of Darayya’s 4,000 to 8,000 residents for a few weeks.
Hours later, the bombing began. The Darayya Local Council said on Monday that 132 barrel bombs had been dropped since Friday. A compilation of the some of the attacks in recent days: Meanwhile, the siege has been renewed. Rola Hamada said her family was subsisting on any vegetables that can be found in a garden and a pound of rice from the local council’s aid office:
“I have four kids and two grandsons, and when they see food, it’s like they are seeing it for the first time.My grandson doesn’t know what fruit is. He was born in the city while it was under siege, so these conditions are all they know.Residents and activists say that the regime has further tightened any supplies of food by bombing Darraya’s small plots of land for crops.
Two weeks ago, President Assad’s advisor Bouthaina Shaaban told an audience in Washington, as the regime continued to try and block assistance while pro-Assad forces attacked from the air and on the ground: Nobody is starving in Darayya. I can tell you that Darayya is producing peas and beans and food and wild berries that is enough for the entire country. It is a very fertile land.The regime — supported by Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah — is trying to recapture the area southwest of Damascus. Failing that, it is trying to force agreements leading to the removal of any arms and rebels from the towns. Earlier this month, the local council in Moadamiya, the town closest to Darayya, agreed in principle to the removal of barriers and the evacuation of armed men in return for assurances of food and supplies. Moadamiya has also been besieged since 2012, despite a truce agreement in early 2014 that was supposed to lift blockades.The regime has pursued the “surrender or starve” strategy since it lost many areas around the capital in 2012. It has continued to resist the demands of the international community to relax the sieges.
After a now-collapsed February 27 cessation of hostilities, the regime briefly allowed assistance into some areas, but it renewed the blockades in April and May, with the UN able to aid only 5% of Syria’s hard-to-reach population.In mid-May, the International Syria Support Group mandated the UN’s World Food Program to begin airdrops by June 1, but the UN backed away from the initiative, saying that assistance would have to have the Assad regime’s consent. www.mesop.de