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Syrians protest 'UN inaction' towards siege of Damascus suburb

Syrians in besiged Moadamiyeh 'were disheartened to find out that the UN delegation did not bring with them any food or medicine'
Syrian protesters in Moadamiyeh, in the outskirts of Damascus, on 2 June, 2015 (Dani al-Qappani)

Scores of Syrian residents of the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Moadamiyeh protested against what they said was "UN inaction" towards a government siege re-imposed on them on 17 February of this year. 

The protests took place during a visit by UN officials to Moadamiyeh on Tuesday, which was reportedly meant to revive a truce agreement between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and rebels belonging to the Free Syrian Army. 

"The UN officials met a number of locals in Moadamiyeh and visited the sites of destroyed mosques and schools as well as the only pharmacy there and the hospital to inspect the health situation," Dani al-Qappani (a pseudonym), a media activist at the rebel-held town, told MEE. 

"People were disheartened to find out that the delegation did not bring with them any food or medicine," he added, noting that the humanitarian situation has worsened since February.

The visiting delegation was led by Khawla Mattar, the head of the office of Stefan de Mistura, the UN's special envoy for Syria.

Ammar Ahmed, a member of the town's local council, told Aljazeera TV that the people of Moadamiyeh were hoping the UN delegation would be bring aid as "they had promised us nearly four months ago".  

"Four loafs of bread for each family is all that is allowed in through the [government] checkpoint," Ahmed added.  

The office of the special envoy for Syria, meanwhile, declined to comment on the visit or regarding the current situation in Moadamiyeh, when contacted by MEE.

The government siege of the town was previously lifted following a truce agreement with the rebels two years ago. Aid was allowed into the town in exchange for raising the government flag (instead of the opposition one) in the town centre.

Under that deal, rebel fighters were also requested to hand over their heavy weaponry in exchange for negotiations on the release of detainees held by the government.

Activists inside Moadamiyeh, however, said the government did not abide by the truce's terms and continued to the attack the city, actions which prompted rebels to retaliate and lead pro-Assad forces to re-impose the siege in 2015.

Moadamiyeh was amongst the first towns to join the pro-reform uprising against the rule of Assad which began in March 2011 and was inspired by the Arab Spring, but soon morphed into a civil war following a bloody government crackdown on protestors.

The town was also one of the sites that were hit by chemical weapons, which Human Rights Watch said "available evidence strongly suggests that Syrian government forces were responsible for" – a charge that Damascus denied.