Footage From Inside Besieged Syrian Community Shows Terrifying Reality For Thousands Of Civilians

Daraya has been under siege by its own government for more than three years.

21/04/2016 3:55 AM AEST | Updated 21/04/2016 3:55 AM AEST

"Please do not leave me," a young Syrian boy weeps to the bloodied corpse of his brother, bound tightly in a white sheet. "Oh, God, it's as if you are telling me my feet are severed."

Amnesty International wants you to get angry.

"Demand aid is sent to Daraya now," the humanitarian organization urges in a heartbreaking new video about the violent crisis unfolding in Syria that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

Daraya, an opposition-held suburb in southwestern Damascus, has been under siege for more than three years by its own government. Its long-suffering residents have received no humanitarian aid since the attacks began, and many are starving to death.

Some 6,800 barrel bombs were dropped on Daraya between January 2014 and February 2016, Amnesty notes, citing data collected by the Local Council of Daraya City.

“We used to depend on reserves and we could bring food in from the neighboring town, but since the government tightened the siege we cannot bring in any food or medicine,” Mohamed Shehateh, a member of the council, told Human Rights Watch. The community has no running water or electricity, he added.

Omar Abu Bakr/Reuters
Smoke rises after what activists say were barrel bombs dropped by government forces in Daraya explode. Some 6,800 barrel bombs were dropped there between January 2014 and February 2016.

Although President Bashar Assad's regime is targeting rebel groups with its onslaught of barrel bombs -- canisters filled with explosives and metal fragments -- civilians are often killed in the path of destruction.

"These are Zeina's toys, and this is her hat and scarf," says a Syrian man featured in the video who is sitting atop the wreckage of a shattered building, flipping through photos of a baby girl. "I got them from under the rubble."

Despite efforts by the United Nations to deliver food and supplies to the besieged community, the Syrian government has continued to restrict access for aid groups. With extremely limited food available, some desperate families have resorted to eating grass, the U.N.'s World Food Program reported. The conditions are so dire, dozens of children formed a giant SOS plea with their bodies in March, begging world leaders to bring an end to the siege.

U.N. humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland estimated a few thousand civilians are in Daraya, in "a very, very difficult position." He said it is a violation of international law for Assad's government to block the humanitarian aid.

While a cease-fire that came into effect on Feb. 27 has reduced fighting in the war-torn country, it has yet to lift humanitarian aid restrictions on some isolated communities including Daraya and Douma, another city just outside the capital.

As many as 4.5 million people in Syria live in "hard-to-reach" locations, the U.N. noted, including up to 400,000 people in 15 besieged areas who do not have access to foreign aid.

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