Supporters of Bashar Al Assad took to social media with photos of their meals to taunt the thousands of starving civilians in the besieged town of Madaya.
The hashtag #متضامن_مع_حصار_مضايا, meaning “solidarity with the siege of Madaya”, has sparked outrage over the continuing crisis, with those using it condemned as “sadistic” and “unbelievably disgusting”, even by their own side.
Photos included people with hot meals including kebabs, grilled prawns, whole fish, chips, salad and mountains of bread.
The trend emerged on Facebook and Twitter yesterday as President Bashar al-Assad gave into international pressure to allow humanitarian aid to enter Madaya since the first time since October 28.
But reports say it will be too late for at least 23 men, women and children who have already starved to death, while photos show emaciated people resorting to eating leaves, cats, insects and grass in desperate attempts to survive.
Madaya, a former holiday resort in mountains near the Lebanese border, has been under siege by the Syrian army and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah for six months.
Reports say around 40,000 people remain trapped and reliant on next week’s shipment of food and medical supplies.
As part of the pact, aid will also be allowed into the nearby town of Zabadani, which is also under siege, and Kefraya and Fua – two villages in Idlib province that have been surrounded by Syria’s Al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al Nusra since March.
The European Union (EU) welcomed the decision to allow humanitarian access but called it to be extended to other areas, as well as demanding a halt to attack on civilians by all parties in Syria’s ongoing civil war, ahead of UN peace talks later this month.
Blockades have become a common tactic, with regime forces holding rebel-held areas near Damascus under siege for several years and, rebel groups blockading territory loyal to Assad, who has the military backing of Iran, Russia, Hezbollah and Shia militias from Iraq.
Rebel groups are backed by Saudi, Turkey, Qatar and Western powers as well as foreign jihadis.
The war in Syria has killed more than 250,000 people in nearly five years, and displaced more than seven million.
Hezbollah says Madaya has been held hostage for months by 600 militants made up of 60% Ahrar, 30% Nusra and 10% FSA.
They say armed groups in Madaya control the food supplies of the town and that the town wasn’t effectively under siege until militants began using it as a base from which they launch operations against the Syrian army and Hezbollah in Zabadani.
They say militants have been using 23,000 Madaya inhabitants as human shields and as political card using them in false propaganda campaign.
And they say that so far there have been no deaths.