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People ‘Die in Slow Motion’ as Assad Supporters Laugh


A convoy consisting of Red Cross, Red Crescent and United Nation (UN) gather before heading towards to Madaya from Damascus, and to al Foua and Kefraya in Idlib province, Syria, Jan. 11, 2016.

A convoy consisting of Red Cross, Red Crescent and United Nation (UN) gather before heading towards to Madaya from Damascus, and to al Foua and Kefraya in Idlib province, Syria, Jan. 11, 2016.


Social media is part of the war in Syria.

International aid trucks drove into the town of Madaya, which is held by rebels, on Monday. At the same time, supporters of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad used social media to mock starving residents.

The United Nations hopes to start peace talks between Assad’s regime and the opposition leadership on January 25.

The social media campaign shows that it might be a difficult negotiation in two weeks.

The Guardian newspaper reports that residents of Madaya had to eat leaves and grass to survive. This is because Assad’s forces prevented aid from entering the town.

A social worker in the town said the people were “dying in slow motion.”

Assad supporters posted photos of skeletons on Twitter. They added a hashtag that approved the starvation of residents of Madaya.

One television channel in Lebanon said the photos of starving residents of Madaya were not real.

A portion of the Hezbollah militant group based in Syria supports Assad. They say the residents of Madaya and the opposition forces brought the starvation campaign on themselves.

The food aid arrived on Monday. Workers left on Tuesday, promising to return soon with more help.

One aid worker from the International Red Cross called his first impression of the town “heartbreaking.”

The United Nations humanitarian office says up to 400 people may need to be evacuated for medical treatment. The UN says it is also concerned about 400,000 more Syrians in locations cut off by the war.

Syria is not the only Middle East country where civilians are suffering. On Monday, the Islamic State terror group carried out a series of attacks that killed at least 46 civilians. Another 100 people were injured.

IS militants said they were targeting Shi’ites. One attack killed at least 18 at a Baghdad shopping mall. In Muqdadiyah, at least 23 people were killed by a pair of suicide bombers.

Later, a car bomb exploded at a market in Baghdad, killing five more.

The U.S. State Department called the attacks “barbaric acts of terrorism.”

I’m Dan Friedell.

This report was based on information from VOANews.com and the Guardian newspaper. Dan Friedell adapted this story for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.

How do you feel about the civilians suffering in Syria and Iraq? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments section or on our Facebook page.

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Words in This Story

mock - v. to laugh or make fun of someone

resident - n. a person who lives in a place

skeleton - n. the bones that support the body of a person or animal

heartbreaking – adj. causing great sadness, disappointment, etc.

evacuate - v. to remove from a dangerous place

impression – n. the effect or influence that something or someone has on a person's thoughts or feelings

barbaric - adj. very cruel or offensive

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