Syria’s ambassador to the UN says media reports of starving civilians in the southwestern town of Madaya have been fabricated in an attempt to defame the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
“Actually, there was no starvation in Madaya,” Bashar Ja’afari told reporters at the UN headquarters in New York, where the UN Security Council met to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Syria.
Jaafari said journalists from the Qatari-owned al-Jazeera broadcaster and the Saudi-owned al-Arabiya TV network are “mainly responsible for fabricating these allegations and lies.”
He said false information about starvation deaths in the Syrian town are aimed at “demonizing” Damascus and “torpedoing” peace negotiations due in the Swiss city of Geneva on January 25.
The Syrian diplomat also said aid delivered to Madaya in October had been looted by terrorist groups and sold to civilians at high prices.
“The Syrian government is not and will not exert any policy of starvation on its own people,” he said, adding the “terrorists are stealing humanitarian assistance.”
On Monday, a convoy of 44 trucks loaded with food, baby formula, blankets and other supplies entered Madaya. An equivalent amount of aid would also arrive in two other besieged towns of Foua and Kefraya.
The Syrian government recently agreed to facilitate the flow of relief aid into Madaya, which has been the scene of fierce clashes between pro-government forces and Takfiri elements.
Locals told the Lebanese al-Manar TV on Sunday that terrorist groups had stored aid packages for Madaya and sold it to the locals at inflated prices.
According to the UN, up to 4.5 million people live in hard-to-reach areas of Syria which has witnessed a deadly conflict fueled by foreign-sponsored Takfiri terrorists since March 2011.
Over 260,000 people have reportedly lost their lives while millions of others have been forced to flee their homes due to the violence.