Syria has denied reports that alleged the government played a role in starving the rebel-held town, accusing rebel-traders of stealing humanitarian aid instead.


Residents in the southwestern Syrian town of Madaya said though they had managed to escape the blockade, the rebels are still controlling most of the town’s resources and sold them food at “inflated prices,” RT reported Tuesday.


The information came after aid convoys from neighboring Lebanon reached three towns where thousands have been trapped for months without food and medical supplies, as images from the town spread on social media and shocked the world.


On Tuesday the Syrian ambassador to the U.N. said that media reports of starving civilians in the southwestern town of Madaya have been fabricated in an attempt to defame the government of President Bashar al-Assad.


“The Syrian government is not and will not exert any policy of starvation on its own people,” Bashar Ja’afari said, refuting media reports that claimed the government aimed to punitively starve the rebel-held town, adding the “terrorists” were “stealing” the humanitarian aid.


Madaya has been the scene of fierce clashes between pro-government forces and insurgents. This situation forced authorities to blockade the bordering city located in the hills that separate Syria and Lebanon. It was just a couple of days ago that the Syrian government agreed to facilitate the flow of relief aid.


The almost five years of war have left more than 250,000 people dead and nearly 6 million people displaced within Syria itself, late this month a round of peace talks will take place in the Swiss city of Geneva, warring parties have agreed on a road map that hopefully will end the armed conflict.