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Medical Aid Group Presses for More Humanitarian Aid in Syria

In this image taken from video obtained from the Shaam News Network, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, smoke billows amid buildings at a bomb explosion in Daraya, near Damascus, Oct. 15, 2013.
The French aid group Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières or MSF) says the international community should demonstrate the same urgency in addressing Syria's humanitarian crisis that it did in pressing for the destruction of its chemical weapons.

The call from MSF operations director Bart Janssens came Tuesday, along with a warning that the threat of malnutrition and starvation in the country is rising as people run out of food.

He said in an interview with VOA that malnutrition will reach dramatic levels in the coming weeks, particularly in areas where access to refugees is blocked by ongoing fighting.

"So what we see is that there have been very massive gains made in making a deal and even putting that into concrete action to have [chemical weapons] inspectors on the ground, and we really believe that this should be repeated to get more medicine and food in numerous enclaves where all aid is blocked," said Janssens.

Meanwhile, Syrian warplanes and helicopters bombed rebel-held districts across the country Tuesday, as most of the Muslim-majority country sought to mark the first day of the religious festival of Eid al-Adha.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government warplanes bombed targets in the village of Latamneh in northern Hama province, killing three children, as well as targets in the Eastern Ghouta district, near Damascus, and the southern city of Daraa.

In Damascus, embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad attended holiday prayers, with state television showing him waving to supporters as he entered a mosque in a northwestern neighborhood.

A short while later, the same network carried rare footage of Assad's British educated wife, Asma, speaking to a group of young people. It showed her dismissing claims that she and her children had left the country to ensure their personal safety.

International monitors say more than 100,000 people have been killed in the 30-month Syrian civil war, which has displaced more than 2 million people internally and forced millions more to flee the country.