Lina Khatib writes: Horrific images and stories of starving children have suddenly flooded the media as the reality of life in the town of Madaya in Syria, besieged by Syrian regime sources and Hezbollah, has surfaced. But what is perhaps more shocking than the images is how the deliberate targeting of the population of Madaya has been taking place since July 2015 without the international community noticing.
This is despite activists in Madaya desperately trying to direct global attention to the atrocities committed there by the Syrian regime and its ally Hezbollah. It is only when the situation in Madaya reached the level of mass starvation that the international media have paid attention.
The Syrian regime and Hezbollah have put Madaya under siege for more than six months now as a response to the siege of the northern towns of Fua and Kefraya by anti-regime forces. In besieging Madaya and neighbouring Zabadani on the Lebanese border, the regime is trying to pressure its rebel opponents to agree to a population transfer between the two sets of towns that would consolidate regime control over Syrian towns bordering Lebanon. The regime’s plan is to empty Zabadani and Madaya from Sunni residents and populate them with Shia who would be brought in from Fua and Kefraya. This “sectarian cleansing” would allow the Shia Hezbollah to consolidate its control over areas serving as supply lines for regime strongholds in Damascus and the Syrian coast (the Sahel) as well as for Hezbollah itself. [Continue reading…]