SYRIA

Syrian Army Accused Of Hoarding U.N. Food For Starving Civilians

May 29, 2015 at 11:00 AM ET

Syrian Islamist rebels shared images on Friday allegedly showing that Assad’s regime had stockpiled UN aid food packages meant for civilians and stored them alongside weaponry. The images were posted during an assault by the “Army of conquest” coalition which includes the Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria. The group took control this week of the city of Ariha, Syria’s last regime-held urban center, which sits mid-way between Aleppo and the coastal city of Lattakia, in Syria’s north-west.

The images, which have not been independently verified, allegedly show food boxes and flour sacks labelled with logos of the Red Crescent and the WFP, the United Nations’ food program which has been providing food assistance to Syrian civilians since the beginning of the war.The Red Crescent distributed WFP food aid in the area as recently as two weeks ago. Several images show WFP wheat sacks lying beside Syrian army ammunition crates. Vocativ previously reported that ISIS had stolen similar UN packages and rebranded them as zakat, a traditional Islamic tithing for the poor.

WFP spokesperson Jane Howard told Vocativ: “We are aware of those pictures and we are looking into whether they are authentic or not. As a food program we don’t give food assistance to the military. There is a war going on and sometimes areas change hands very quickly and it’s very chaotic. Clearly we try our best to make sure that the food will go to the people it is intended for”.

The fall of Ariha into rebel hands is the latest blow to Assad’s forces, in a series of military losses since March. The seizure of the city by al-Qaeda branch in Syria and its allies took would leave most of Syria’s northwest province, bordering Turkey, in rebel hands.

Official account of Nusra Front: From inside the city of Ariha, loot taken by the Mujahideen

 

“Parts of the booty taken by rebels in the city of Ariha after being liberated from Assad’s regime”