Five U.S. Citizens Trapped in Syrian Town Being Starved by Assad, Hezbollah

Getty Images
Getty Images
Washington, D.C.

At least five U.S. citizens, all related, are reportedly trapped in the Syrian mountain town of Madaya where thousands of residents are being starved by Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad and Iran’s terrorist proxy Hezbollah.

Nevertheless, President Obama’s State Department has reportedly refused to help the family get out of Madaya.

Up to 30,000 residents have been trapped in the land mine-surrounded town, located northwest of Syria’s capital, Damascus, since July 2015.

For months, the Assad regime and its ally, Iran’s terrorist proxy Hezbollah, have besieged Madaya and prevented anyone from leaving to get food. Russia is directly providing heavy weapons to the terrorist group Hezbollah, based in Lebanon, according to The Daily Beast.

Lebanese Hezbollah field commanders with troops fighting in Syria told The Daily Beast that “there is a relationship of complete coordination between the Assad regime in Damascus, Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia. At the same time they say the direct interdependence between Russia and Hezbollah is increasing.”

Meanwhile, The Christian Science Monitor reported that, for the past six months, Hezbollah fighters have been helping Assad troops mount a siege on Madaya, located nearly 8 miles from Lebanon’s eastern border.

Hezbollah and the Syrian troops have been “using checkpoints, snipers, and landmines to hem in the population,” added the report.

“The last food deliveries to reach Madaya were on Oct. 18. With food stocks depleted, starving residents have been forced to eat grass, leaves, and water flavored with spices,” further noted The Christian Science Monitor. “Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) said Thursday that 23 people have died of starvation since Dec. 1 at a medical clinic run by the organization, six of them infants under a year old.”

A Pennsylvania Syrian-American couple who left their home in the U.S. 10 years ago with their young children in hopes of making a life in their native Madaya are now “trapped and starving,” reports MSNBC.

“Right now, my kids are starving from hunger,” the Syrian-American mother told MSNBC via telephone on Monday. “My baby is 3 years old. All day long, the only words he says are: ‘I’m hungry. I need food.’”

The husband and three of the couple’s five children are American citizens and now find themselves among those caught inside the besieged mountain town, a U.S.-based Syrian activist who is also a  relative told MSNBC.

“In all, there are at least five U.S. citizens there, said the activist, Hussein Assaf. He said they include his octogenarian grandmother, along with his 43-year-old cousin and three children, ages 14, 13 and 9,” noted the article.

According to Assaf, there is a sixth relative in Madaya who is also a U.S. citizen. However, MSNBC acknowledged it could not immediately verify the claim.

“Assaf asked that the relatives not be named to protect them, but he provided U.S. documentation — including passports, Social Security cards and birth certificates — as verification,” reported MSNBC.

On Monday, “MSNBC independently uncovered public records… showing that the cousin held addresses in Pennsylvania from 1995 to 2006,” pointed out the report.

Assaf told MSNBC that his grandmother, having never visited the United States, obtained her citizenship during the 1990s through the U.S. Embassy in Damascus because her father had been a naturalized U.S. citizen.

On Monday, Assaf’s cousin reportedly confirmed that he is a naturalized American citizen and that three of his five children were born in the United States.

The American family now wants to leave and return to the United States. According to the American wife, her children are at risk of dying from starvation.

MSNBC reported that “the U.S. State Department wouldn’t confirm that the individuals are U.S. citizens, saying it doesn’t ‘comment on citizenship claims.’”

The American family has reportedly reached out to U.S. officials asking them for assistance to get out of Madaya.

“I’m an American citizen, I live with my family here in Syria in the Zabadani, Madaya area, which [has] been under siege by Lebanese Hezbollah,” one of the family members wrote by email in Arabic on Oct. 17.

“The humanitarian situation is very difficult and we want to travel to [the] United States,” the man continued. “I have an appointment with the US embassy in Lebanon to renew my US Passport on November 25. But they shut down all roads, and we can’t leave. I would like your help if possible.”

According to email correspondence Assaf gave MSNBC to show that his cousin has reached out to U.S. officials for help traveling back to the United States, the State Department responded, “Dear Sir, unfortunately, we are unable to assist you in this issue and you are advised to consider other options. Thank you.”

The State Department noted that “the Czech government is working with U.S. citizens in Syria on behalf of the United States, which closed its Embassy in Damascus in 2014.”