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    Assad's new crimes against humanity. Starving Muslim children eat dogs and cats in Damascus

    Publication time: 18 October 2013

    Muslim clerics in Syria have issued a fatwa permitting people to eat cats, dogs and donkeys, as grapic new footage shows the effects of malnutrition on starving children.

    The ruling has been broadcast from mosques in besieged Muslim areas on the outskirts of Damascus.
    The area is liberated by the Mujahideen, triggering daily bombardments by Russian planes from Alawite forces trying to win it back.
    Alawite forces have also tried to block food and other relief supplies getting through.
    The clerics say it is a cry for help to the whole world, adding that if the situation continues to deteriorate, the living could have to eat the dead.

    For Muslims, Eid is a time for children to receive new clothes and play with friends after sharing a festive meal with their families.
    But in liberated areas of Damascus, children have died from severe malnutrition and food has all but run out, with doctors lacking the means to treat their patients.
    "Of course there is no Eid for the children here," activist Abu Malek said in Moadamiyet al-Sham, a suburb south-west of Damascus.
    "For them, Eid will come when they see a plate of rice and bulgur."

    Shocking amateur videos have been distributed from the town, showing visibly malnourished children.
    One video shows a boy, identified as Ibrahim Khalil, laid out on a stretcher.
    His ribs and cheekbones protrude from underneath his pale skin, and he has dark circles surround his eyes.

    Another video shows a girl with her two baby siblings, appealing for help so her family can secure baby milk.
    "There is no road... the road is closed... what are we going to do?... we are feeding them milk but it's expired," says the little girl, as the babies cry.
    The situation is just as bad for children in other liberated areas near Damascus.
    "On any given day in the emergency room, some four out of 10 patients I see are malnourished children," said Abu Mohammad, a doctor working in a field clinic in the Marj area east of the capital.
    "Many children have very low blood pressure, fatigue, dizziness, and a reduced (disease-fighting) white blood cell count.
    "The worst affected by the food shortages are children aged under two years."

    Doctors lack food, medical equipment to treat patients
    He said the hardest part is not having the right medical equipment or food to fight malnutrition.
    "I get depressed in the clinic, because we don't have what we need to fight this," he said.
    Also affected is Yarmuk, a Palestinian refugee camp in southern Damascus which has turned into a battleground in recent months.
    "Nothing, not even bread or flour, has been allowed in for 96 days," said Palestinian-Syrian activist Ali Abu Khaled, who added that he was "lucky to get one small meal a day".

    Speaking to AFP on the eve of Eid, a cleric in southern Damascus said a man in his area recently ate dog meat out of desperation.
    "We issued a religious edict allowing people to eat dog and cat meat. Not because it is religiously permitted, but because it is a reflection of the reality we are suffering," said Sheikh Saleh al-Khatib, who has been on hunger strike for nine days.
    "People here have nothing for their children.
    "I am on strike because I want to help save food for others."

    In Moadamiyet al-Sham, people are surviving on herbs and vegetables they have planted.
    "We no longer have any food in the stockpiles. Everyone is planting in the orchards and the streets," said activist Abu Hadi, adding that no bread had entered the area for months.

    But harvesting the food is dangerous, "and people have died in the orchards because of the shelling", he said.
    Many children in Moadamiyet al-Sham are malnourished. Children are worst off because they need the right kinds of food in order to grow. Adults can survive on whatever they can find.
    "It is a war crime to besiege civilians," Abdel Rahman said.

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