The Syrian regime has trapped 400,000 civilians in eastern Ghouta on the outskirts of Damascus since October 2012, the Syrian Network for Human Rights said yesterday, noting that 397 civilians so far have starved to death.
The rights group said that 206 children among the civilians perished due to the severe lack of food and medicine, in addition to 67 women.
In a report the network said that the Syrian regime imposed a partial siege on Al-Gouta in October 2012 and tightened it in October 2013.
"At the beginning of 2015 some food was smuggled into Al-Ghouta through Al-Wafideen Refugee Camp after a deal between the regime and the armed opposition groups," the network said.
It added: "Some food was smuggled through tunnels linked to eastern Ghouta neighbourhoods with Al-Qaboun, Barza and Tishreen in Damascus."
Regime forces launched a military offensive on these neighbourhoods and closed most of the tunnels on 18 February 2017. They also closed Al-Wafideen Crossing at the end of March.
Both these measures, the network stressed, caused a severe shortage of basic food material, including milk, and the prices soared.
The network said that people are eating grass and leaves, adding that two babies have died from malnutrition over the past few days.