Muslim leaders in war-torn Syria have issued a fatwa allowing citizens in the embattled suburbs of the capital Damascus to eat dogs and cats to satiate their hunger, according to multiple reports. Islam normally considers the meat unfit for humans.
The fatwa came during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, which is often celebrated with feasting. According to the BBC, the Muslim clerics described their decision as a cry for help to the world.
Syrian opposition groups and international relief organizations have warned of the extremely precarious situation in some of the capital's suburbs. Government forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad have cut off road access to rebel-held suburbs of Damascus, causing extreme shortages. Rebels have tried without success to break the blockade, and local residents in the area are subsisting off food they planted themselves, the Agence France-Presse reported.
According to a recent Time report, some people have already starved to death.
"We have no food, no milk and no medicine," a woman from Moadamiyeh, a suburb of Damascus, recently told The Associated Press. "We are surviving on one meal a day."
The plight of civilians in the suburbs of Damascus, Syria's capital, was thrust into the spotlight in August when a chemical attack killed hundreds of people, according to Doctors Without Borders. The attack sparked international outrage and the Syrian regime was forced to allow U.N. experts in the country to destroy its chemical arms stockpiles.