Report: Philly Man’s Family Trapped in Syria, U.S. No Help
Madaya is a small town in war-torn Syria currently held by rebels, and conditions there are said to be “horrifying”. And now a Philadelphia man says that he has family members who are trapped there but the United States government won’t do anything about it — even though there are five children in the group and all of the family members are U.S. Citizens.
Hussein Assaf, 35, told his story to al Jazeera on Wednesday. According to Assaf, the U.S. government has responded to his pleas for help with “total neglect.”
“We are fourth-generation American citizens,” Assaf told al Jazeera. “My great grandfather served in World War I defending this country, and my brother is on active duty in the US army. We pay our taxes and we are loyal to this country, but in the eyes of this administration it appears to be that we are not American enough to help us in the hour of need … I blame the State Department for turning its back on my family.”
Al Jazeera reviewed email correspondence between Assaf’s family and the United States Embassy in Beirut. According to the site, the embassy responded to the family’s urgent requests with the following message: “Unfortunately, we are unable to assist you in this issue and you are advised to consider other options.” Meanwhile, a State Department told al Jazeera that the U.S. is “making every effort” to help U.S. citizens leave the country, though they didn’t comment specifically on Assaf’s family.
Madaya is a town of about 40,000 people just northwest of Damascus, and its residents are facing starvation. One resident told the BBC that people were eating cats, garbage and grass. Last week, Syria began allowing aid into Madaya and two other besieged cities in Syria.
Follow @VictorFiorillo on Twitter.