Residents sell furniture as firewood in besieged Deir az-Zour
Living conditions are becoming increasingly desperate for civilians in the eastern Syrian city of Deir az-Zour, as pro-regime forces and Islamic State group fighters battle it out for control of the city.
Currently the only method to deliver vital aid to residents of Deir az-Zour is via aiddrops co-ordinated by the UNWFP and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.
Since April UNWFP has overseen a total of 154 airdrops taken delivering a total of 2,800 MT of food, and other supplies to the city. Russia has also been involved in aid drops to Deir Ezzor.
However, despite such efforts, living conditions in the city are increasingly desperate.
Ever present cycles of death and destruction in the city have lead one of its public parks to be converted into a cemetery, forced some residents to chop up furniture to sell as firewood, and made basic resources such as nutritious food potable water scarce (see video).
The scarcity of resources has also lead prices in the city to skyrocket. According to the activist group Deir az-Zour 24 a kilo of rice in the city now costs 800 Syrian lira ($3.75) , a kilo of sugar SL 4,000 ($15), a kilo of meat SL 12,000 ($56.25) and a kilo of sugar SL 4,000 ($18.75).
Previously Deir az-Zour 24 accused the Syrian regime of forcing residents of the city to fight against IS alongside pro-regime forces.
Currently, the Syrian army controls western districts of Deir az-Zour where around a third of the city’s pre-war population of 300,000 currently live, in addition to the city’s military airport.
Pro-regime forces, backed by airstrikes are currently battling Islamic State fighters in the city’s east, said to be home to an estimated 50,000 civilians, often in street to street combat.
Since IS fighters stormed the city in July 2014, later laying siege to regime controlled areas in January 2015, monitoring groups estimate that around 2,500 pro-regime fighters have died in Deir az-Zour.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights approximates that 3,000 IS gunmen have also been killed in the city.
Earlier this month a meeting attended by regime military figures in the Damascus neighbourhood of Shaalan saw the formation of a pro-regime militia titled the “Euphrates and Jazira Mobilisation Force” (Hashd al Jazira wa Furat) aimed at re-taking Deir Ezzor announced.
The fledgling force has announced intentions to reach Deir az-Zour travelling overland from the ancient city of Palmyra, or Tadmor, liberated from IS in March.
Deir az-Zour , whose origins date back to Roman times, is located around 200 km north east of Palmyra, in eastern Syria on the Euphrates close to Syria’s border with Iraq.