About 40,000 civilians in Syria's Madaya town are reportedly on the brink of starving to death as they have remained cut off from food and medicine supplies over the last six months due to a siege by government forces and Hezbollah militants.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a report on Wednesday that it has observed hundreds of landmines planted around the city as well as fencing with barbed wires by forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as well as Hezbollah militants.
Around 300 children in Madaya are suffering from malnutrition, while nearly 1,200 people are facing chronic medical conditions, according to the monitoring agency.
The agency also recorded at least 17 deaths due to acute shortage of food and medicines, including those people who tried to step out of the city to get food but were killed either by landmines or by snipers.
Earlier this week, 126 people were evacuated from Madaya and Zabadani -- another town besieged by Syrian regime forces and Hezbollah. They were moved to Lebanon and then to Turkey under a UN-backed deal implemented by the International Committee of the Red Cross, The Guardian had reported.
The aid workers who entered the besieged towns in Syria under the truce, which included Fua and Kefraya in the north west and Madaya and Zabadani near the Lebanese border, found residents living without adequate food and clean water, and even milk for babies.
The residents in these areas were found to be suffering from malnutrition, hepatitis and even lung disease as they resorted to burning plastic to fight the cold winter, the Guardian report said.
While just a few of the thousands of residents of Madaya were evacuated, SOHR reported that a handful of families had bribed Syrian soldiers and Hezbollah militants to flee the city, while some rebels turned themselves in to ensure their families could leave.