BEIRUT (AP) -- The top U.N. official in Syria is demanding immediate and unconditional humanitarian access to tens of thousands of people trapped in four besieged towns in the country.
Yacoub El Hillo says aid must be allowed to reach the towns of Madaya, Zabadani, Foua, and Kafraya, before starvation sets in. Madaya and Zabadani are encircled by pro-government forces, while rebels are blockading Foua and Kafraya.
Aid group Doctors Without Borders says 16 people died in Madaya from siege conditions in January, even after aid was allowed in.
El Hillo says that the U.N. is "calling on all parties involved to ensure this doesn't happen again." He also urged combatants to allow medical evacuations.
The four towns have not received relief since April.
El Hillo made the appeal on Monday in Damascus.