Inmates currently being held in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo's Central Prison are in desperate need of aid, as many are dying of starvation and malnutrition, according to one of its inmates, who identified himself using the initials A.T.
Aleppo (AA)- Theprison, which opposition forces have laid siege to for almost one year, has become a military base for the Syrian army. However, it still has 4,000 prisoners in cells, surviving on minute amounts of food.
Syrian opposition forces released several hundred inmates in a firefight with regime troops on Feb. 6. One of the inmates, who witnessed the large scale assault, said they heard an explosion at 11 a.m., following four hours of conflict. During the takeover, many inmates could not be saved but up to 300 prisoners were successfully sprung.
The prison has been under siege by Syria's opposition since April 2013 and is under the control of soldiers and an armed militia group from the Bashar al-Assad regime, known as Shabiha.
In addition to inmates dying of starvation, many more have contracted fatal diseases. A.T., said that 609 inmates have died of starvation so far, and on average two to three people die a day.
Many people are dying due to lack of aid, A.T. says and inmates are looking "like bones." In addition, some of the hostages are suffering from tuberculosis. But there are other causes of death among inmates. "As far as I know 500 inmates were released after soldiers and opposition forces reached an agreement. Whenever opposition forces shoot at the guards' section, soldiers start firing at the inmates' section. That's why so many inmates were killed," he added.
Opposition forces have since reached an agreement with guards and soldiers to put an end to the massacres, and prisoners are urging non-governmental organizations to push for the prisoners' release, A.T. said. Some 250 of the inmates are women and children between the age of 15 and 18.
Meanwhile, Syria has surrendered or destroyed nearly one-third of its chemical arsenal but remains behind on its international obligations, the head of the disarmament mission told the world's chemical watchdog yesterday.
Syria has already missed several target dates to hand over or destroy its arsenal before a June 30 deadline and the United Nations-Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) mission called on Damascus to move faster.
OPCW head Ahmet Üzümcü said at the Executive Council meeting that Syria had submitted a revised proposal to complete the removal of all chemicals from Syria before the end of April, after previously saying it could only complete the job by June.
An OPCW meeting two weeks ago was told that a mere 11 percent of Syria's dangerous chemicals had left the country, but with two shipments last week and one more expected this week, the country will have handed over more than 35 percent of its arsenal, Üzümcü said. "Given delays since the lapse of the two target dates for removal, it will be important to maintain this newly created momentum,"
Syria was to have shipped out the most dangerous Category 1 chemicals by Dec. 31 and Category 2 chemicals by Feb. 5. "For its part, the Syrian Government has reaffirmed its commitment to implement the removal operations in a timely manner," said Üzümcü.
Syria is also supposed to have destroyed its 12 chemical weapon production facilities by March 15, and the OPCW Executive Council remains divided on how to pressure Syria to meet that date.
U.N. Security Council resolution 2118 was passed after a massive chemical weapon attack that killed hundreds in several opposition areas around Damascus in August.
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