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Madaya Siege: Aid Convoy Reaches Starving Syrian Town

A convoy bearing desperately-needed food and supplies for starving Syrians reached the rebel-held town of Madaya on Monday.
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An aid convoy entered the blockaded town of Madaya on Monday, bearing desperately-needed food and supplies for thousands of starving Syrians.

Horrific images of emaciated residents and tales of desperation have emerged from Madaya, which has been blockaded for six months by government and pro-government forces.

More than two dozen people — including at least six under the age of 1 — have died of starvation since Dec. 1, according to Doctors Without Borders, which called it an "open air prison" with no way in or out. Five died on Sunday.

The United Nations warned that nearly 42,000 are at risk of hunger or starvation there, and a doctor in the town told NBC News that residents have resorted to eating cats.

The Syrian government agreed late last week to allow aid into Madaya and two other towns — Kefraya and Foua — where residents were facing starvation.

The U.N.-supported convoy set out on Monday with the Red Cross and Syrian Red Crescent and the first trucks were able to enter on Monday afternoon.

"Offloading of aid expected to last throughout night," a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross posted on Twitter.

The convoy was expected to bring food for around 40,000 people to last a month in Madaya, though the International Red Cross warned last week the trip could be dangerous.

"Whatever we bring in, it's not enough," said Iyad Nasr, a spokesman for the U.N.'s OCHA. He told NBC News that the U.N. and others were hoping for unconditional access to the town and other besieged villages.